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Books

If you're a hiker and plan extensive touring in the Bavarian Alps, a useful guide is Walking in the Bavarian Alps by Grant Bourne (published by Sabine Kroner-Bourne). All the most intriguing trails are highlighted, and the walks or hikes range from easy to difficult. The book describes 57 walks, covering such places as the Tegernsee and Berchtesgaden, along with varying recommendations for Alpine huts.

For background and understanding of the German experience, any of the works by Thomas Mann (1875-1955) are recommended. As one of Germany's most celebrated writers (Buddenbrucks, 1901; Death in Venice, 1925; The Magic Mountain, 1927), he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. If you're politically minded, Munich and Memory: Architecture, Monuments, and the Legacy of the Third Reich, by Gabriel David Rosenfeld (University of California Press), explores the fascinating saga of Munich's postwar architectural reconstruction and social de-Nazification. Especially intriguing is the behind-the-scenes look at the clearing of both "rubble and rabble" from the German landscape.

A fun read is The Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich, by Larry Hawthorne and Eliska Jezkova (Freizeit Publishers). This is an entertaining guide to the best watering holes in the beer-drinking capital of the world. You're taken on a tour of 70 of the city's finest Biergarten (beer gardens) and Bierhalle (beer halls), along with a selection of pubs and late-night spots, and you'll also learn the history behind them.

Making its appearance in 2002, the latest work on "mad king" Ludwig is Ludwig II of Bavaria: A King's Passion for Castles, by Rolf Toman (published by Konemann).

Bavaria's most fascinating courtesan was Lola Montez, mistress of King Ludwig I. Her fascinating tale lives on in Lola Montez: A Life, by Bruce Seymour (Yale University Press).

The intriguing story of the history behind the Eagle's Nest, once the vacation retreat of Hitler, is explored in the book Battle for Hitler's Eagles Nest, by Leo Kessler (Severn House Publishers).

Films

Of late, the only film with a Munich setting to gain millions of viewers has been Steven Spielberg's 2005 film, Munich, with a screenplay coauthored by the award-winning Tony Kushner. It dramatically depicted the story of the "Black September" aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the murderers of that fateful day when the world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics. Daniel Craig (later James Bond) was one of the stars of this thriller known for its graphic violence. With worldwide audiences, Munich raised a provocative question: "What distinguishes justice from vengeance?"

Released the same year as Munich was director Marc Rothemund's Sophie Scholl -- die letzten Tage. The film is a dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, nicknamed the White Rose. In 1943 this brave young woman stood up to members of the Nazi army as part of a resistance movement. Her courage made her a legend in Germany. Actress Julia Jentsch plays Sophie. Some scenes were filmed at the University of Munich, the original location where Scholl was arrested, followed by her interrogation and ultimate sentence of death.

Munich was also the setting for Beerfest (2006), director Jay Chandrasekhar's tale of two brothers who travel to Germany for Oktoberfest. Here they stumble upon a secret, centuries-old competition described as a "Fight Club." Watching all the beer drunk in this movie is guaranteed to give you a hangover the next morning.

Music

Contrary to its reputation, Munich is not all oompah. The city enjoys renown as a distinguished home of classical music, much of which is available on recordings. Munich was the domain of many prominent composers, including (on and off) Orlando di Lasso, W. A. Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber, and Gustav Mahler. The Nationaltheater premièred several of Richard Wagner's operas when he was under the patronage of Ludwig II. Munich is also the home of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra.

One of the most celebrated of all Munich-born composers is Richard Strauss (1865-1949), whose works are widely recorded and performed today around the world. He was the leader of the New Romantic school. From 1886 to 1898, he was Kappelmeister (musical director) of the city, and later with Franz Schalk, headed the State Opera in Vienna, where he worked with all the major European orchestras. He composed both operas and symphonic works. Of his 15 operas, his most famous are Salome (1905), Elektra (1908), and Der Rosenkavalier (1911).

Founded in 1893, the Munich Philharmonic is one of the greatest orchestras of Europe, having performed premières of such composers as Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, among others.

Born here in 1952, Harold Faltermeyer is a musician, keyboardist, composer, and record producer. He best captured the zeitgeist of 1980s synth-pop in film scores, including the much-imitated electronic theme, "Axel F," from Beverly Hills Cop and "Top Gun Anthem" from the soundtrack of Tom Cruise's Top Gun. For this work, he won two Grammy Awards, first in 1986 and again in 1987.

The German conductor and pianist, Wolfgang Sawallisch, was born in Munich in 1923, but became known in America when he was the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1993 to 2003.

Born in Munich as the child of a U.S. Army chaplain, Brent Mydland (1952-90) was the fourth keyboardist to play for the Grateful Dead. Two of Mydland's most popular songs with the band were "Far From Me" and "Easy to Love You."

One of the most unusual musical sons to come out of Munich is Lou Bega, born here in 1975, the son of a Ugandan father who had come to Germany in 1972 to study biology. Bega is the Latin pop musician famous for his first single, "Mambo No. 5," which became an instant worldwide hit and is still widely played. A lot of fans who hail the singer-rapper as the King of Mambo don't know of his German background and that he's fluent in the language.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.