The history of the Lucerne Festival starts on the 25th of August, 1938, when Maestro Arturo Toscanini conducts for the first time an orchestra specially made up for him. Located at the heart of Europe, a continent which in 1938 is devastated by economical, political and moral crisis, Switzerland appears like a refuge for those who, like Toscanini, refuse to perform in such festivals as Salzburg or Bayreuth because of the Nazis.
Nowadays, about 120 000 music lovers visit the festival every year. The summer concerts, of which the Lucerne Festival in summer are made of, are the main part of the Lucerne Festival, which is now composed of two other festivals: the Lucerne Festival at Easter (founded in 1988), and the Lucerne Festival at the piano (founded in 1998, and happening every autumn).
In 2003, Claudio Abbado founded the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, made up of chamber musicians, soloists and teachers of international fame. Every year since then, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra opens the Lucerne Festival in Summer.
In 2004, Pierre Boulez founded the Lucerne Festival Academy, which teaches to young musicians how to explore modern music.