The city of Lucerne can be found near central Switzerland, directly on the shores of the lake that has the same name. Surrounding this magnificent city and lake are the stunning mountains of Standerhorn, Rigi, and Pilatus, creating breathtaking views wherever a person looks. The Europeans have even given Lucerne the nickname of “City of Lights”, which makes travelers want to venture there more often.
This city is known for more than its natural landscaping and beauty though. Many people are also drawn to the region for the classical music that is produced for the Lucerne Festival every year. This festival was founded back in 1938 and there are now three different festivals held each year.
The very first festival in the area was more of a concert gala that was held within the gardens of a villa owned by Richard Wagner and over time it grew into the fantastic event that it is now. Prior to being the Lucerne Festival, it was the Internationalen Musikfestwochen Luzern, but that was only until the year 2000 when it was given the name it has today. This festival is currently part of the European Festivals Association, which supports festivals held in Europe and many other countries.
The very first Lucerne Festival was the Summer Festival and it is now held over a four-week period of time, normally between the middle of August through the middle of September. During the first season of the festival in 1938, there were only ten concerts. Today, there are more than one hundred events during those four weeks and they include at least thirty symphony concerts. There is a different theme each year for the Summer Festival and the performances all include musical pieces that match.
This year, the Summer Festival theme was Childhood, when it all happens for the first time. The music will focus on the younger generation, while also addressing issues that children deal with, how childhood looks like and how it should look like. After all, while childhood is new and exciting and waiting to be discovered, there are parts that are not as carefree and wonderful. Audience members will feel all that as they listen to the music and think about what it would be like to be a child once again.
Since 2003, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra has been the first performer of this event and they have done a phenomenal job of making guests want more. There are many different performers within the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and every year famous classical musicians arrive to join in with all the others that arrived before them. Whether a person excels at playing the violin, cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet, or other musical instrument, only the very best will have a chance to perform with this infamous orchestra.
Everyone that attends any of the performances during the Summer Festival is amazed at how much is going on within Lucerne in between the concerts. Children love the special events that are held just for them, and no one can pass up the opportunity to watch any of the forty-minute concert series.
Beginning in 1988, Lucerne Festival started the Easter Festival. That festival begins two weeks before Easter and goes all the way through to Palm Sunday. The music during the Easter Festival focuses on sacred varieties, so everyone can enjoy that joyous time of the year.
The Piano Festival has only been around since 1998, but it is quickly becoming just as popular as the other two. The event is held over nine days during the month of November, as performers have piano recitals and play chamber music. There is also an Off-Stage portion to this event and those performances are held at many of the bars around the city.
Recent performers at the Lucerne Festival include Maxim Vengerov, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Every year there are new conductors and soloists who join in with those who have been performing at these festivals for decades.
Some of the other performers at the festivals each year are the students of the Lucerne Festival Academy. More than one hundred young musicians attend this academy for three weeks to learn music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Each student works with renowned musicians from around the world and then they perform their new skills in front of an audience. However, these students do not only perform in the city of Lucerne. They also go on tour to cities that include Paris, Hamburg, and Berlin and show the locals there that they are the next up and coming musicians of the world.
The academy first opened in 2003 and is now in its fifteenth season. The founder of the academy was Pierre Boulez and he directed the students until his death in 2016. Now Wolfgang Rihm is in charge and he is continuing with the legacy that Boulez left behind. The Principal Conductor of the academy is Matthias Pintscher and he leads the students during performances on stage and in rehearsals.
More than one hundred thousand people arrive in Lucerne to attend any number of the concerts performed during the Lucerne Festival and many of them will stay for the duration of the events. Some of the newer people attending these events only began going when the KKL Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre opened in the late 1990s. Jean Nouvel created this fabulous building that sits directly on the shoreline of the lake and it has the concert hall, conference center, and art museum within its walls. Listening to music within the concert hall is quite the experience, as the acoustician, Russell Johnson, created a space that has the best acoustics in the entire world.
Those who have never experienced one of the performances at the Lucerne Festival will need to travel to Switzerland and see why it has quickly become one of the most desirable musical events in the world. The atmosphere of the city during the performances turns into one of excitement, longing, and tranquility, as everyone embraces the music that seems to be heard everywhere.
A great place to stay when visiting Switzerland is the fabulous tranquil and luxury hotel in St. Gallen called Oberwaid.