Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey

Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey

Rick Steves has spent 100 days
a year for the last 30 years exploring the
wonders of Europe and enjoying
its diverse cultures. The insights he’s discovered
and shared have made him America’s
expert on European travel. In this special, Rick starts
back where he grew up — the beautiful
Pacific Northwest. With its magnificent
natural scenery, Washington state is where
his passion for Europe meets his love of home. Travelers know that wherever
people live, they’re proud of their
identity and their culture. It was in this small
community of Edmonds, just north of Seattle, where Rick’s love affair
with Europe began and it was all
because of music. As the son of a
piano importer, he traveled with his family
to the factories in Europe and developed a passion for
both travelling in and teaching
about Europe. Tonight, Rick takes us on
a musical journey that starts at home and then
meanders through Europe by way of its
most beloved music — late 19th-century
romantic favorites that stir patriotic hearts
across the continent. In this program,
we learn that Americans and Europeans
alike express pride in their unique cultures
and love for their homeland through their music. Join Rick Steves for… Tonight’s performance
comes to you from the Edmonds Center
for the Arts and is performed by the
Cascade Symphony Orchestra with conductor
Michael Miropolsky. [ Applause ] Please welcome Rick Steves. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. This is my hometown orchestra, and like community orchestras
all over the United States, it’s a group of volunteer
music lovers who come together to bring live classical music
to our neighborhoods. Let’s show our appreciation to the Cascade
Symphony Orchestra and to community orchestras
all over our country for their contribution
to the arts. Tonight’s program
is a symphonic journey, touching down
in seven different countries, and with the help of
video and music, we’ll gain an appreciation
for how 19th-century Europe helped shape the beautiful world
that we live in today. The theme of the concert is
romanticism and nationalism. These were the ‘isms’
of the 19th century. And something fundamental
to both of these ‘isms’ is that yearning for freedom. We all want to be free,
don’t we? We want to be free from
external oppression, we want be free from tyrants
and kings, and we want to be free
to be individuals, to live creative
and fulfilling lives. Nearly all the music
we’ll hear today is from about the same
generation, from the late 1800s,
from the Romantic Age, and this music championed
national causes and it also supported
this exciting notion of common people finally taking
the reins in their society. Now, this is a tour of Europe, but it’s going to start
in the United States. That’s because this next piece
celebrates the accomplishments
of our revolution, the first great
democratic revolution, which in so many ways inspired
the flourishing of freedom throughout 19-century Europe. So let’s rise now
for our national anthem. ♪ O say, can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s
last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes
and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ And the rocket’s red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag
was still there ♪ ♪ O say, does that ♪ ♪ Star-spangled ♪ ♪ Banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home ♪ ♪ Of the ♪ ♪ Brave? ♪♪ Listening to that, I enjoyed
patriotic goose bumps, and I imagine you did, too,
and it’s important to remember that people all over the world
enjoy a similar emotional kick when they hear music that
celebrates their culture. In tonight’s program,
we’ll be enjoying romantic music from a time when romantic music stoked
the national pride of countries
all over Europe. From Norway to Italy, from
England to the Czech Republic. We’ll start in Austria
with a Habsburg waltz. You know, the Habsburgs were
really the energy and the elegance of the day. And in the 1860s, it was
the cultural peak of that empire and the waltz was all the craze. The Habsburgs ruled
a vast empire and they were great patrons
of the arts. That’s why Mozart and Beethoven
and Strauss, and all these great composers,
went to Vienna to create
all that beautiful music. Strauss was the heartthrob
of the Romantic Age in Vienna. With his violin, he could
whip up the crowds into a frenzy and he helped create
that waltz craze. This piece gives us the sense of
the pride and the joy of Vienna. It is by Johann Strauss, Jr.,
his number one hit of 1867, “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” For this next piece, we sail up
the Danube into Germany. You know, 150 years ago,
Germany wasn’t there. It was a bunch of
little German-speaking states with a dream for German
nationalism, for German unity. And remember,
in the 19th century, all over Europe, national groups
like this were coalescing and romantic music
supported them. In 1871, that grab bag of little German-speaking
fiefdoms and dukedoms finally became the Germany
we know today. And at that time, the romantic
composer Richard Wagner was in his prime. Wagner was a political radical.
He was a nonconformist. An individual’s individual. Kind of
the quintessential romantic. And he’s a reminder that
romanticism was about more than rising nations. It was also championing personal
freedoms and individualism. This next piece is from an opera
by Wagner, Die Meistersinger. It’s the story of a common man overcoming the tyranny of
tradition to win his lady love. Up now, Wagner’s overture
to Die Meistersinger. Next we hear a piece
from the Czech Republic. The 19th century was a time
of national awakenings. All over Europe,
from Finland to Bulgaria, little national groups
were on the rise. The Czechs were one of these
and they struggled heroically, surrounded
by bigger neighbors — Austrian Habsburgs,
Germans and Russians. Now, romantic music championed
both the causes of these people, and it did it with art
and it did it with music. In the Romantic Age,
for the Czech people, Smetana was a favorite. This piece is named for the most
important river in the Czech Republic. It flows and it connects
the culture like a thread. And it also helped preserve
the identity, the culture and the language
of the Czech people amid those bigger neighbors. The piece is like
a landscape portrait, and when you listen
to the music, you get caught up in the melody
and you almost flow through the forests,
through the villages, and finally
into the capital city of Prague. And at the same time,
the music evokes the persistent
and the heroic struggle of the Czech people. To this day, Czechs get a lump
in their throat when they hear Smetana’s hauntingly beautiful
melody, “The Moldau.” Our next piece is from Italy, and it evokes the struggles
of the Italian-speaking states as they set their sights
on independence. Remember, before 1870,
like Germany, Italy was just a bunch
of little states surrounded by mightier states that really didn’t want
to make room for a new country on the map. For Italian nationalists,
romantic music served as a bugle call
on the battlefield, and their favorite music
was opera. Melodramatic, bombastic,
it just seemed to fit a country that expresses itself
with such emotion. The very most popular opera composer
was Giuseppe Verdi. His operas were the rage. People would fill
the opera houses. They’d stand on their seats
and together they’d sing the dramatic Verdi arias, as if raising their voices
in unison for Italian statehood. This next piece
was written in 1871, the same year that Italy
was united. It’s from
the Verdi opera Aida. While it’s set
in ancient Egypt, when you listen to it,
the pharaoh could almost be a stand-in for the triumphant
king of a newly united Italy. Up next from Verdi’s Aida,
the “Triumphal March.” Next we travel to England. This piece captures the grandeur
of what was Europe’s first global superpower. At the end of the 19th century,
Queen Victoria ruled a quarter of the planet. Her empire was famously the empire
upon which the sun never set, humming
with newfangled inventions from the Industrial Age, with the middle-class
that was educated, prosperous, and on the rise. This next piece is
“Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar. And it seems to provide
a fitting sort of soundtrack for the confidence
that was Britain’s at the dawn
of the 20th century. We know this piece mostly
because we use it at commencement ceremonies to
celebrate educational triumphs. But if you happen to be ruling
a grand empire, or bushwhacking a brave
new future for the common man, this piece works
for other triumphs as well. Let’s listen
to the regal sounds of Elgar’s
“Pomp and Circumstance.” Next we travel north to Norway
and a piece by Edvard Grieg. In the 19th century,
Norway was chafing under the thumb of Sweden, and you know Norwegians
have a distinct need to be Norwegian
apart from Swede. The cultural capital during
this period was Bergen, way out in the west
in fjord country. And the great writers
and artists and musicians gathered there to be inspired
by the natural beauty. Part of romanticism
and a part of nationalism is a love of nature, and Norwegians seeking freedom
found inspiration in the awesome
beauty of their homeland. Grieg wrote this piece to
accompany the play “Peer Gynt.” Peer Gynt was kind
of a Norwegian Huck Finn whose misadventures were
set mostly in scenic Norway. This piece evokes the beauty
of Norwegian fjord country and the pride Norwegians
feel for their way of life and for the beautiful corner
of the world they call home. Let’s listen to “Morning”
from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg
from Norway. No tour of Europe, musical or otherwise,
is complete without a stop
in France, home of the Enlightenment,
the French Revolution, and, in a lot of ways,
the birthplace of modern Europe. In the 19th century, France
already had its independence. Its struggle was a domestic one between the haves
and the have-nots, between royals and
aristocrats and peasants, between elites and commoners. Through its revolutions —
and they had several — the French led the call
in Europe for the end of the old regime
notion of divine monarchs. Until then, most people
just accepted the notion that some people were born
ordained by God to be rulers and the vast majority
were born to be ruled. The revolutionary slogan
of the day was “Liberty, equality
and fraternity.” And this slogan inspired
those who longed for freedom all over romantic
19th-century Europe. And when they sang
that slogan, it was more than
just nation building, it celebrated
personal freedoms and the notion of government by,
for, and of the people. This piece is typical of 19th-century
French romantic music, and when we listen to it,
we can almost hear the rabble gathering in the streets and chanting,”Liberté,
égalité, fraternité,” and, of course,
“Vive la France!” This is an opera by Berlioz
written in the 1850s. The “Trojan March.” [ Applause ] Enjoying this music,
I am reminded that while every nation
has its unique struggles, one thing they all have
in common is that fundamental yearning
for freedom. And music can express
and empower that basic human emotion. You know, in so many ways,
the 19th century laid the groundwork
for the freedoms that we enjoy today
in the 21st century. And that passion for freedom
is still strong in Europe. Of course the big news
in our generation is the gradual integration of that long bickering continent
into a peaceful union. And while it’s tough to get
all those proud nations to do anything
at the same time, their motto is
“united in diversity.” And one thing they do
very well together is embrace the ideals
of their anthem. This last piece was
conceived in the revolutionary spirit
of the 19th century and set to a poem about
universal brotherhood. It’s an anthem relevant today as it was when Beethoven
set pen to paper calling all men to brotherhood to celebrate freedom and to be united joyfully
in their diversity. As we go to this last piece, I would like to thank you all
for joining us. We hope you’ve enjoyed
our symphonic journey. Now let’s finish
with the official anthem of the European Union,
Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” [ Applause ] ♪♪

34 thoughts on “Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey

  1. I have fallen in love with all your videos Mr Steve,and the present one is painting Europe through music.Thank you so much.

  2. I had no idea this special existed! I love the music from the show, and my search for a soundtrack brought me here 🙂 I enjoyed the music, the sights and Rick Steves as our travel and history guide!

  3. I didn't want to skip the content but I was wonder if it concludes to Dvorak's "New World" Symphony which would be more appropriate than the Beethoven's piece here. It is a romantic (national) symphony that makes America proud since 1893.
    When they asked Dvorak "to write something" the aspirations were the same. And Dvorak took all the musical inputs brought by European immigrants, he took the black spirituals, he took all the noise and the spirit of New York, he took sound and the tempo of his beloved trains, he took a thunder over the Great Plains and wrote a stunning piece that definitely belongs to this set.
    We are not jealous, No.9 in E minor is all yours 😉

  4. All your videos are great, and now with this one combining great symphonies as well, you have lifted your work up to the top. Amazing work and video. Thank you

  5. Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
    Tochter aus Elysium,
    Wir betreten feuertrunken,
    Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.
    Deine Zauber binden wieder,
    Was die Mode streng geteilt,
    Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
    wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

  6. Rick Steve's work s awesome.No words to express the beauty of his work.He himself looks so sober n loving personalityy.Love u Rick

  7. I'm dead impressed. If this is the quality of a hobby Orchestra in a town in Washington State the notion leaves me wondering how many people live in that town. Neither Rotterdam nor Amsterdam can claim a regular volunteer symphony Orchestra. Let alone one of this quality

  8. But the editing style of this work is a bit hasty. Can you see it?
    The camera panning is too quick and the stay of the image after a panning is too short, which makes the eyes feel uncomfortable.

  9. yes europe is beautiful but there is point in their lives that they love to kill each other. do not judge the book by its cover.

  10. Thank you sir for the journey through beautiful music. as well as europe. the two together is a perfect combination with your work. again, thank you.

  11. Terribly sad what is happening to Europe today. May God protect Europe from the Globalists and Cultural Marxists.

  12. Time stamps:

    00:00 Intro
    03:45 The Star-Spangled Banner (US anthem)
    06:48 Johann Strauss II – Blue Danube Waltz (Austria)
    13:19 Richard Wagner – Die Meistersinger Overture (Germany)
    20:36 Bedřich Smetana – Vltava/The Moldau/Die Moldau (Czech Republic)
    28:07 Giuseppe Verdi – Triumphal March from Aida (Italy)
    34:12 Sir Edward Elgar – Pomp and Circumstances (England)
    40:43 Edvard Grieg – Morning from Peer Gynt (Norway)
    46:04 Hector Berlioz – Marche Troyenne (France)
    51:09 Ludwig van Beethoven – Ode to Joy (EU anthem)
    54:31 Ending
    55:24 Credits

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