You can visit his house on your own, but it's more enjoyable if you take the included 20-minute tour. In summer, also try to attend the lunchtime piano concert. And don't miss his little studio near the fjord; in this tiny space, Grieg created some huge works.
Vienna is to classical music what Athens is to sculpture, Florence to painting and Milwaukee to beer. You can make pilgrimages to the homes (now mostly small museums) of many composers: Schubert, Brahms, Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart. But I find these places inconveniently located and generally underwhelming.
My favorite musical setting in Vienna is not a single home but an entire “House of Music.” The Haus der Musik (www.hdm.at) is a high-tech experience that celebrates the hometown specialty. The museum, spread over five floors and well-described in English, is unique for its effective use of interactive touch-screen computers and headphones to explore the physics of sound.
The museum also features fine audiovisual exhibits on each of the famous local heroes (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss and Mahler). Before leaving, pick up a virtual baton to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. Each time you screw up, the musicians put their instruments down and ridicule you; make it through the piece and you'll get a rousing round of applause.
Even if powdered wigs and conductor's batons aren't your thing, take time to weave travel and classical music together. You'll find that in Europe, and all over the world, music is an international language — it cuts across borders and joins people together.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at email@example.com and follow his blog on Facebook.
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