Autobahn playlist

Germany's Autobahn system originated in the city of Bonn, the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven.


Germany’s federal highway system, as iconic as the country’s beer and dark forests, is the backdrop to this whirlwind playlist. Wagner’s Prelude to Act 3 of Lohengrin and Overture to The Flying Dutchman will rouse and inspire any motorist. Richard Strauss’ Don Juan has a carefree vibe appropriate to the seemingly speed-limit-free road (though only about 60 percent of the highway holds that distinction). Beethoven and Schumann, onetime residents of Bonn, remind us that the first section of the Autobahn originated in that city.

The supernatural tale of the fairy king Oberon is celebrated in Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Nights Dream and Weber’s Oberon Overture. As the road curves through hills and forests, Brahms’ Second Symphony captures the pastoral mood. Finales by Haydn and Mendelssohn exude a perpetual motion feel, before the journey ends on the banks of the Danube, immortalized in Johann Strauss Jr.’s Blue Danube.