Violinists' favourite places in Europe.

July 8, 2008 at 05:26 AM · If you have a month to spend in Europe in October, what are the places you want to go and why? Please share your stories.

Replies (44)

July 8, 2008 at 08:54 AM · Ireland. Because I happen to play Irish music. :) If I couldn't go to Ireland, it'd be London, for the exact same reason.

ETA: Now, speaking as NOT a violinist, there's a heckuva lot of places I'd go in Europe. The biggies (Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, etc.) and some not so big (Brittany, Croatia, etc.). Just for fun.

July 8, 2008 at 08:01 AM · Vienna for sure. I'd love to visit Paris as well though.

July 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM · You gotta go to Paris, but you should seriously consider Prague. It is a gloriously beautiful and interesting city, plus there is lots of good music there to go to.

July 8, 2008 at 02:01 PM · prague and london, but ermm, if you are going in October, why not hit up Octoberfest??

July 8, 2008 at 02:07 PM · Umm, although of course most of Oktoberfest is in September... :)

July 8, 2008 at 02:24 PM · Budapest, Hungary if you are a classical music fan!

Classical music is like hockey in Canada in Budapest. The state funds most of the concerts, so they are inexpensive as well as being of high quality.

Budapest is also known for high cuisine, turkish baths, and is not far from Krakow, Poland and Prague, two other beautiful locations.

London, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, while all delightful, will also eat through your pocketbook.

July 8, 2008 at 07:45 PM · Berlin is great because it still has double the number of symphony orchestras of most other European cities. The orchestras of the West and East seem to have been preserved after the wall came down. They many other interesting performances too. I just saw a production of the Magic Flute performed in a new Underground Station at the Reichstag.

It is actually relatively affordable compared to other European cities too. For that reason the Art scene has exploded.

July 8, 2008 at 11:19 PM · Amsterdam! :)

July 9, 2008 at 01:33 AM · Vienna, Berlin, Budapest, Munich - but most of all Vienna...

July 9, 2008 at 03:39 AM · Cremona, Italy. I'm still waiting for the Messiah to return. (Stradivarius that is)!

July 9, 2008 at 12:50 PM · If you go to Vienna, be sure to see the Haus der Musik, a fabulous museum about music.

July 10, 2008 at 04:46 AM · Okay, so far the top three are Vienna, Paris, Budapest. Prague and Berlin are very much favoured too. What about Italy and Spain? If museums, affordable concerts and great food are your top priorities, is Cremona really worth visiting? Will the above 5 cities be enough to keep one busy in a month-long trip?

July 10, 2008 at 05:53 AM · Greetings,

I think you have too many priorities. I wouldn`t get too excited about the food in Prague. The msuic yes. Why not spend a month in Italy with greta food and wine and lots of opera?

Then you can get all the arty farty stuff you could wish for.



July 10, 2008 at 08:46 AM · If you are looking for affordable concerts in Paris in October there is "Festival Présences" the weekend 10,11 & 12. This is a new music festival at Radio France; all concerts are free admission.

July 10, 2008 at 08:56 AM · Hi,

if you're going to Vienna (and you should, if you're a classical music fan), check out Vienna for the Music Lover. Sorry, the link is to a German site but it was not available from the American one. Anyway, you can browse the content of the English edition.

Violin and bow making clusters in Germany are located in Markneukirchen, Bubenreuth and Mittenwald.

Cremona is of course a very attractive location for any violinist.

Enjoy your stay,


July 10, 2008 at 10:19 AM · If you are considering a "European Tour" - then my best advice would be to get a Rail Pass, see here for a first stop in getting ideas etc especially if you are lucky enough to be under the age of 28:

You can whizz around Europe seeing everything you want to see and if you plan your journey well, use overnight trains to cut down on hotels needed. The other option is to use budget airlines for inter-city travel. You can hop from say Berlin to Vienna for literally only a handful of Euros if you book your flights well in advance.

I would also add Florence to the list of must see cities. I think October would be a fairly good choice, but the best time to visit is definitely end of January/start of February. Going there in the last week of Jan, I was able to get into all the galleries - including the Uffizi - without queuing at all, there was plenty space to really admire all the famous sights (Michelangelo's David for example...) and I spent literally hours drooling over the gorgeous Strads and other treasures at the Accademia. Saw some nice concerts and opera too and even in January it was sunny and warm enough to sit outside in short sleeves and drink a lusciously lethal hot cioccolata so thick you could eat it with a spoon. Yummy.

Another city I would recommend is Lucerne in Switzerland, with a really amazing new-ish concert hall with fantastic gigs and the awe inspiring Mount Pilatus overshadowing everything. Very inspiring to go up in the cable car and look at the amazing views over the Alps...

By the way, if you are considering Vienna, then it would be worthwhile to order all your concert tickets online in advance to avoid disappointment, but you can usually get a decent "Stehplatz" standing room ticket if you are willing to queue. The other secret hot tip is to hang out at the Musikhochschule in Johannesgasse to see what professors are having class recitals that week. I've heard some amazing gigs that way and sometimes if you are a musician/student somewhere else, professors will let you sit in a group class if you are lucky.

July 11, 2008 at 06:50 AM · Thank you all for your helpful advice! I feel so lucky to be among you guys!

Hm, I wonder why Andrew likes Amsterdam so much...

So definitely Vienna, I will look into the Haus der Musik in Vienna (thanks Tom!) and "Festival Présences" in Paris (thank you Nigel!).

Buri, if Italy is relatively inexpensive to stay and if we still get to go to Vienna, Paris, Budapest, Berlin, your suggestion may work. We also have to visit our friends in south France a bit... kind of spread around. I'm prepared to take a lot of ginseng and coffee to keep me going, and of course, a Euro rail Pass.

A big thank you to Rosalind for your detailed advices and tips! Wow, do you manage a travel magazine too?:)

July 11, 2008 at 07:26 AM · This might be one reason to go to


July 11, 2008 at 02:58 PM · Some info on Budapest is attached. The state subsidies on concerts still exists, making them extremely affordable.

I remember going to Vienna, going to the second tier operahaus for $30 and seeing an average production. The opera in Budapest was better and cost me $2.50. Granted, this was awhile ago so things may have changed.

July 12, 2008 at 06:38 AM · Jansen is always so inspiring to watch! Thanks for the link Craig. Was this one of the regular events in Amsterdam? It’s really worth checking out.

Terry, thanks for the additional Budapest information! Budapest is definitely on.

Can someone tell me anything about Tuscany music-wise?

July 13, 2008 at 02:17 PM · One other thing about Budapest. It's the only place I know of where the audience is so educated. If it's a good performance, they bring the performers out for multiple curtain calls. If it's not, they don't. Young people go to the concerts too. There's a palpable excitement and buzz before the performers come onstage. This is why I call it akin to hockey in Canada - it's an event for everyone and a national pasttime. There's both a deep folk tradition (Roby Lakatos) and a deep classical tradition (Bartok, Liszt). Their are also many great classical players that tend to be unknown to western Europe.

But if someone else has a different experience, I'd be really interested to hear it. Please chime in!! This was my experience about 10 years ago and I'd sure love to repeat it someday. If I'm wrong, I'd certainly like to know!

July 13, 2008 at 05:00 PM · Audience makes an enormous difference, always. Where is Mara when we need her?

July 13, 2008 at 07:01 PM · Mara is in Italy.

July 13, 2008 at 07:13 PM · I see. I've been waiting all along for Mara to chime in!

July 14, 2008 at 03:09 AM · Oh all right, all loyal fans call me back to the stage.... ;-)

I just got back from Italy. Lovely country, but only if you're into opera. I'm off to the Czech Republic in two weeks and will certainly report back on how it is there.

July 14, 2008 at 04:01 AM · Mara,

Inquiring minds want to know... ;)

What is the classical music scene like in Budapest? Is it good or has it run amok with gangsters? ;)


July 14, 2008 at 03:32 PM · ..and they wouldn't shut up till they were paid..

July 14, 2008 at 03:38 PM · How should I know? Haven't made it to BP yet.

July 14, 2008 at 04:41 PM · oh well. so much for the inquiring minds. i think we all thought you were Hungarian and would've been to BP.

July 14, 2008 at 06:15 PM · Uh oh, Terry. This will get Mara going.

July 14, 2008 at 06:32 PM · ...the flak jacket is getting cinched up right now! ;)

July 14, 2008 at 09:18 PM · I'm too jet-lagged to get fired up. Part-Hungarian I may be, but I have not yet been to Budapest. Soon enough. ;-)

July 14, 2008 at 09:20 PM · Speaking of Hungarians, now that IMSLP is up again, I noticed that the version they have of the Beethoven concerto is edited by Jeno Hubay. Get it before the lawyers close the site down again.

July 14, 2008 at 10:11 PM · Mara! Thanks to chime in! Come back soon when you can and tell us all about your Euro trip!

July 14, 2008 at 10:13 PM · Lawyers close the site down? Hmmm, I'm confused. Somehow I thought you were a lawyer, Tom.

July 14, 2008 at 10:28 PM · I am a lawyer. There are copyright issues surrounding the site. So, the lawyers for some music publisher or editor might claim that some stuff is not actually public domain under the copyright laws and try to shut down the site as happened recently. I am not an expert on these issues (my area is banking law) and have not paid much attention to the travails of the site, so I cannot really tell you more than that.

July 14, 2008 at 11:22 PM · Whoa whoa whoa, hold the phone!! IMSLP is back!??!!!?!?

July 14, 2008 at 11:28 PM · Haha, I knew it! But don’t you think you’ve given them lawyer too much credit? Aren’t lawyers just hired guns? Closing down the site ultimately will not be lawyers but their client’s choice. That site so far is copyright kosher in Canada, but things may change.

Btw, I also studied intellectual property law when I was at law school a few years ago, then I decided to be a civil servant instead after articling, but I’m still being blamed from time to time for thinking like a lawyer. You don’t get such bad treatment for being a doctor or an accountant.

Yes, Mara, it's back and here is the link:

July 14, 2008 at 11:44 PM · Q: If you drop a lawyer and a viola off the Szabadsag Bridge at the same time, which one hits the Danube first?

A: Who cares.

(Sorry, Holzman!)

July 14, 2008 at 11:53 PM · the lawyer? He saw the reflection of an ambulance in the water.

July 16, 2008 at 03:07 PM · The lawyer and bystanders do because, if the timing is right, the lawyer can put the viola to its best and highest use: as a flotation device.

July 24, 2008 at 06:44 AM · Anyone knows any good online source for concerts schedule(fall 2008)in Paris?

July 24, 2008 at 08:15 AM · The third column on this page has links to venues and orchestras in Paris:

July 24, 2008 at 04:44 PM · Thanks Nigel!

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