Music in the Key of B

Getting yourself in the mood for a river cruise down the Rhine and the Danube may be as delightful as spending the afternoon listening to music. You will encounter most of the giants of western culture, starting with the famous “B’s”, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Beethoven is so important to German culture that it’s his statue in the middle of Bonn, not some general or statesman.

Rhine River Cruise Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven. By Joseph Karl Stieler, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rhine River valley is the legendary setting of the Siegfried stories of Richard Wagner’s famous Ring of the Nibelungs. This four opera endurance test is performed by only the most accomplished Opera companies. Watch for this theme in Emmerich, Xanten, and Bad Konigswinter.

And, then, there’s Vienna. As you stroll down the avenues, you can practically hear the music that was composed and performed here. We are talking Mozart, Strauss, even Chopin, though he was Polish. This was the seat of culture at the height of the Hapsburg power. You may even want to watch Mozart’s antics in Amadeus, just to remind yourself how much of his music is already familiar.

Here are some suggested books and music collections for each of these titans of classical music:

Johann Sebastian Bach
Masters Of Classical Music: J.S. Bach

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 – 6

Bach: Violin Concertos

Bach: Sacred Masterpieces

Ludwig van Beethoven
Greatest Hits Beethoven

Beethoven: The 9 Symphonies

25 Beethoven Favorites

Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas & Concertos

Johannes Brahms
My Favorite Brahms

Greatest Hits

Johannes Brahms: Complete Symphonies and Concertos

Brahms: A German Requiem

Wolfgang Mozart
Essential Mozart

Mozart: Great Piano Concertos Vol. 1, Nos. 19 20 21 23 24

Mozart: Violin Concertos (Complete)


Mozart: Symphonies 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41 / Karajan

Mozart: Operas

Johann Strauss II
Strauss Waltzes

Greatest Hits

Richard Wagner
Wagner: Complete Operas (Limited Edition)

Twilight of Gods: Essential Wagner

Best of

Wagner: Ring

Frederic Chopin
The Chopin Collection

Greatest Hits

Chopin Complete Edition

Vladimir Horowitz Plays Favorite Chopin