Vienna Waltz – A Musical Journey Through Austria by Rail

In the end, it’s not so much about the costumes as it is the refined elegance of the film. The literate screenplay and gliding camerawork of Howard Koch and Franz Planer elevate this simple costume melodrama.

Vienna’s pleasures are countless, but penetrating its cultural heart reveals some truly grotesque shadows. Mozart’s memorial lies in a prominent composers’ enclave alongside Beethoven, and Freud’s crypt casts an almost-palpable pall over the city.

The Danube Express

Across Austria, the beauty of its landscapes is matched only by its wealth of cultural and musical heritage. The country’s remarkably comprehensive train network allows visitors to explore both, bringing together the epic scale of the mountains with the glamour and romance of Vienna’s cityscape.

The Danube Express is one such train, offering a luxurious ‘hotel-on-wheels’ experience on various journeys across Central and Eastern Europe. Its fleet of sleeping cars comprises three comfort categories (Superior DeLuxe, Deluxe and Heritage), completed by dining, lounge and staff vehicles.

Travelers can choose between a wide variety of itineraries, including a spectacular winter tour that sees the train journeying over the snow-capped Semmering Pass and through the enchanting Balaton Uplands National Park. A magical New Year’s trip departing from Budapest is also on offer, with signature Golden Eagle Luxury Trains experiences such as a festive concert of traditional Viennese folk songs and a whirlwind tour of the city by horse-drawn carriage.

On board the Danube Express, passengers are able to indulge in a full range of fine wines and cuisines, courtesy of the onboard restaurant car. With its bright and relaxing ambience, the dining room is a perfect space to enjoy a leisurely meal, made with only the finest local ingredients by the expert onboard chefs.

In the evenings, passengers can look forward to listening to dulcet tones from the resident pianist. He will entertain guests until the early hours with an eclectic mix of old and new classics, bringing a touch of class to any night on the train.

It’s no surprise that Austria is one of the world’s most popular destinations for rail holidays. With a network that covers the entire country, escorted tours by train allow travelers to discover the magnificent scenery of Austria from the comfort of their own private cabins. From medieval city sites in Innsbruck to the ethereal beauty of Mozart’s hometown, Salzburg, an escorted tour with Great Rail Journeys is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

The New Year’s Gala Dinner

While schnitzel, beer and Mozart might be synonymous with Austria, this enchanting country also possesses one of Europe’s most expansive train networks. It’s a nation that takes public transport seriously, and if you book your tickets in advance, getting around is easy. Whether you want to immerse yourself in Vienna’s cultural highlights or giddy mountaintops, there is no better way than by rail.

The Viennese Waltz has a distinct style that is recognized by its sweeping turns and swift rotations. It is a faster dance than the Slow Waltz, with a tempo that is about twice as fast. It can be difficult to learn, and it requires a lot of practice to master the artful gliding movements. However, once you get the hang of it, you will be hooked!

During the 17th and 18th century, this once peasant folk dance was embraced by high society, which refined it to give it a more intimate feel. Couples face each other rather than stand side by side, which gives the Waltz a more fluid motion and creates a sense of closeness. This version of the Waltz became hugely popular and even served as a tool for social diplomacy at the balls and banquets that were integral to brokering a peace plan for Europe during the Congress of Vienna from 1814 to 1815.

As a result of the waltz craze, large dance halls like Zum Sperl and Apollo were opened to accommodate thousands of dancing couples. This societal transformation is reflected in the musical compositions of Strauss, who earned the title of “Waltz King” because his cheerful melodies helped to lift the spirits of his countrymen after their defeat by Napoleon.

Grab a friend and head to a dance studio in the heart of the city to learn the basics of this elegant ballroom dance. As you sway and turn to the beat of the music, it’s almost impossible not to smile. By the end of your class, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the Viennese Waltz. If you are lucky, you might even find yourself invited to attend a local ball!

The Schonbrunn Palace

The Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) is one of the most impressive Baroque palace ensembles in Europe, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the 16th century until 1918, the Habsburg Dynasty held sway over the extraordinary complex, which features the world’s oldest zoo, breathtaking gardens and many magnificent buildings. It’s a powerful material symbol of the monarchy’s dominance over a broad swath of European history, and it’s also an important example of Gesamtkunstwerk.

Whether you want to see the private rooms where Maria Theresa entertained her aristocratic guests, or you want to see the lavish formal ceremonial spaces where imperial celebrations took place, you’ll find it all at this marvelous palace, which was the main residence of the Habsburgs until they abdicated in 1918. You can explore the palace on your own by following its many signs and relying on your free audioguide, or you can join a guided tour to learn about the palace’s long and interesting history.

As you take in the rooms, it’s easy to imagine the events that took place here. A six-year-old Mozart charmed the aristocracy in the Hall of Mirrors, Napoleon had secret conferences with his generals in the Round Chinese Room, and the famous carousel painted by Martin van Meytens was inspired by the aristocrats’ love of riding horses.

It’s not all rosy though, and you can sense a kind of unhappiness about the way that the palace was decorated in some of its private rooms. The portraits of Maria Theresa’s children, for instance, all have very dour expressions on their faces.

If you’re a music lover, don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the Schonbrunn palace and attend a concert in the Orangery garden. The orchestra is accompanied by vocalists and it’s an experience that will stay with you forever.

If you’re looking for a way to make your Austria by train adventure truly memorable, consider booking an accommodation package with us and taking advantage of our special discounts on this trip. You’ll be able to save money on your accommodations, which will give you more money to spend on other activities in the city and in the country. We offer a variety of packages to suit all tastes, and you can find out more about them by visiting our website.

The Vienna Walking Tour

Explore Austria’s musical history with a local guide on this guided tour of Vienna’s top music-related landmarks. Your guide will lead you through the city’s Old Town (Innere Stadt), revealing tales of musical prodigies and connecting their stories to Vienna’s rich history. From renowned opera houses to historic theaters, this tour will reveal the city’s soul, etched into melodies of its past.

As you stroll through the narrow streets and pedestrian crush of the city center, your guide will tell you of Mozart and Beethoven’s early lives as they played for royalty. He will point out the locations where they lived and performed, including Stadtpalais Todesco, Palais Lobkowitz, and Cafe Frauenhuber. As the tour reaches its crescendo at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, you will gain a deeper appreciation for the composers and the city that inspired them.

The tour is led by a certified guide from the Association of Travel Agents in Austria and includes entrance to Schonbrunn Palace. The cost of the tour is €30 per person, which will be paid to your guide at the end of the trip. If you are using a Vienna Pass or hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, this excursion will be included.

Meet your guide in front of the Vienna State Opera and walk through the city’s Old Town to discover important sites that Mozart and Beethoven made their home. During this walking tour, you will stop at Figaro House, where Mozart lived from 1784 to 1787 and the Pasqualati House on Molker Bastei. This was one of the many apartments that Beethoven occupied during his restless life in the city, where he moved more than 60 times. The tour will also visit his monument and explore how his music came to symbolize the apex of the Classic era and herald many of the Romantic developments that followed it. You will also learn about the tragic plague that swept through the city in 1679, killing over 100,000 people and sparking the development of modern medicine. The Plague Column, also known as the Trinity Column or Dreifaltigkeitssaule, commemorates those who died and is a striking sight at 21 meters high.

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