Joseph and Bronka Taler of Annapolis will study Mozart, listen to his music and discuss his operas. And, after 10 classes, the couple and their classmates will take a special field trip -- to Europe to see the cities where the great composer performed.
In a tour for "active older learners," 60 and over, Anne Arundel Community College is planning a trip for about 35 people to visit Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest and Prague, which are preparing for the 200th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's death.
"A German proverb by Goethe says, 'He who wants to understand a poet, must go into the poet's land,' " said Taler.
The pre-trip course, part of a continuing education program that pairs classroom lessons with overseas travel, is taught by George Corrigan, a National Security Agency retiree, and Richard Higgens, who taught music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore for 30 years.
Corrigan also taught a course in Soviet politics last spring at Anne Arundel Community College, which was followed by a trip to Russia. More than 30 students went to the cities of Kiev, Leningrad and Moscow.
Janet Handler, of Heritage Harbor, attended the Russia trip and is considering registering for the Mozart tour. Handler said her favorite part of the trip to the Soviet Union was a visit to a reconstructed city in the Ukraine.
"They had moved houses of the period and churches and lots of windmills.
It was like Gettysburg," she said.
Taler, who also went to Russia, found that Russian children want U.S.
T-shirts, chewing gum, ball-point pens and shoes in exchange for military medals. Taler exchanged the pens as well as a St. John's College T-shirt for medals of the Red Army and a Russian parachutist group among others.
A second session of Mozart, the Man and His Music, begins in February.
The course costs $2,785, including airfare, most meals, ground transportation and first-class hotels. Live performances at the Mozart Festival cost an additional $350.
"Each successive visit will offer insights into central Europe in contrast to our own society," said Corrigan, who teaches courses on foreign policy and current issues at Heritage Harbor adult community in Davidsonville.
Higgens, who teaches the Masterpieces of Symphonic Music course at the Arnold campus and an opera history course in Heritage Harbor, will teach seven classes, including lectures on Mozart's life and the music heritage and culture of the composer's time.
"The point of the trip is to examine on the scene what we've discussed in class," said Corrigan, who acts as tour coordinator.
Corrigan said the trip to the Soviet Union was shocking because it was quite different than what everyone had expected.
"The situation was different in character," he said. "The economy was worse and the attitude toward Gorbachev was more negative than what was expected," Corrigan said.
Taler, who was born in Poland and came to the United States in 1950, said he was fascinated by the classes before the trip to the Soviet Union even though he was familiar with Eastern Europe.
"I met people during the courses and a comradeship was developed," he said.