The Lucerne Festival Is a Haven for Music Lovers

Home of the Lucerne Music festival, est. in 1938(Photo:
Home of the Lucerne Music festival, est. in 1938(Photo:

Established as an annual event in 1938, the Lucerne Festival is a haven for music lovers in a beautiful setting on the shore of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.

Arturo Toscanini conducted the first gala concert performances in this neutral country, after refusing to conduct at Bayreuth and Salzburg in opposition to the actions of Nazi Germany at that time.

The Origins

The Festival’s origins actually go back a year to 1937 when Ernest Ansermet was looking for a place for summer performances with his Suisse Romande Orchestra. Toscanini’s appearance there the following year put the festival on the international map, especially since it was broadcast on radio to America on 80 stations by NBC.

In the years following, a steady flow of legendary artists performed at Lucerne, from conductors Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwaengler, and Herbert von Karajan, to soloists Edwin Fischer, Dinu Lipatti, Yehudi Menuhin, and Pablo Casals.

The Modern Festival

Today, the Lucerne Festival is one of the great summer concert events, hosting internationally renowned conductors and performers.

The Lucerne Festival Orchestra, directed by Claudio Abbado is made up of his own Mahler Chamber Orchestra and leading soloists and chamber musicians from around the world.  The Lucerne Festival Academy, helping train a new generation of outstanding classical musicians,  is directed by Pierre Boulez, another leading conductor of our time.

This year the theme of the festival is “Nature,” and appropriately enough one of the works on the program will be Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony.

So, if Wagner and Bayreuth is not your cup of tea, and Salzburg and Mozart too familiar, perhaps a beautiful setting on the shore of a Swiss Alpine lake surrounded by mountains will fill the bill for great music in an inspiring location.  The Lucerne Festival gets under way August 12th.

I think you already missed the annual yodeling festival.