Incantato Featured Destination: Austria

The Federal State of Austria, located in central Europe, is a very diverse country for its comparatively small size. Ruled by the Habsburg kings and emperors for almost seven centuries, the Austrian culture absorbed many Roman, Slav and Hungarian influences, thus creating a unique cultural blend. Even though around 95% of the population does speak German, there are a number of very pronounced local dialects that make Austrians difficult to understand even for native German speakers. Additionally, due to the various foreign influences, many things have different names in Austria than in other German-speaking countries such as Germany.
Aside from Austria's cultural and natural diversity, there is also a rich music tradition to be found. Austria was and is a world-renowned center for music, especially known for the period of Viennese Classicists. These include composers such as Joseph Haydn, who moved to Vienna in 1790 and was the court composer. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also lived and worked in Vienna, as did Ludwig van Beethoven, although he was originally from Germany. Moreover, these composers' works later guided 19th-century composers such as Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Anton Bruckner, and Gustav Mahler. Vienna's central cemetery is also well worth a visit for any classical music-lover, as people buried here include Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (father and son), Bruckner, Brahms, and Gluck.

Austria consists of nine provinces, the southern-most of which is Carinthia. Bordered by Slovenia and Italy in the south, Carinthia is known for the beauty of its landscape and pleasant climate due to its southern location. Also known as the lake district, the province boasts more than 200 warm swimming lakes pure enough to drink. Main towns include its capital, Klagenfurt, which was founded in the 12th century and is situated along the picturesque Woerther See, the warmest lake in the region. Additionally, international music festivals, architecture, painting, theatre and the Carinthian choirs all contribute in making this province a true cultural stage. One of the many musical festivals is known as the Carinthian Summer, which has been held every year since 1969. This festival for new music places an emphasis on the dialogue between composers, performers and audiences as a vital factor, and a central element of the festival is the performance of a church opera. Performances are held in various venues, one of which is the Ossiach Abbey. Built directly on the banks of Lake Ossiach, this abbey dates back to the 11th century and was furnished in the Baroque period.