In autumn 2008 I made a five-week journey by train through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland, visiting and photographing towns and cities with musical connections – such as Bonn, where Beethoven was born; Salzburg, where Mozart was born; and Vienna, where Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, the Strauss family and many other musicians made their musical names.
In Saxony – the region to the south of Berlin – I visited Eisenach, Weimar, Köthen and Leipzig, where the great Johann Sebastian Bach was born, lived, worked, and died. I travelled to Warsaw to find Fryderyk Chopin's birthplace, and to Prague for Antonin Dvořák. And I 'met' other composers and made other stops on the way: there were 20 destinations on my journey altogether, which are now summarised in pictures on the Photo Overview page.
This site is a photographic and written record of the tour, with over 1,300 images supported by diary and planning notes. I can't believe anyone is going to start at the beginning and follow my tour all the way (but please do, if you have the time!). Rather, I hope that you'll dip in to the places that interest you – perhaps because you've been there already, or you're intending to go – and that you may learn something you didn't know before...
As well as the pages on all my destinations and the places of interest that I found, there are technical notes here on photographic equipment and image handling; information in the Rail Trail on all 35 of my train journeys; and details and reviews, in the Music Trail, of concerts and other musical events that I attended, plus a composer index to the destinations.
The photos are travel photos: I recorded what was there. None of the subject matter was under my control. But I did my best, where possible, to make 'good' pictures, despite some unseasonally poor weather. The notes are based on my diary and my memories of the tour, supplemented by additional research – both before my departure and after my return – to round out the story.
Aping the nobility of the 17th and early-18th Centuries, my journey became known among my family and friends as the Grand Tour; no doubt their accommodation was more sumptuous than mine, but my hotels were all entirely satisfactory, and my journeys much faster than theirs. I travelled with an InterRail Pass, rather than buying a ticket for each train journey, which probably saved money and was certainly very convenient.
In planning the trip I often found it difficult to unearth the right kind of information, so maybe these pages will be helpful to anyone else making their own travel plans. Eventually I hope to add an account of the planning that preceded the Tour, and a post-Tour analysis of what worked and what didn't, and what it felt like to come home. For now, though, I hope you enjoy the site!
Click on Destinations and choose where to go!