KKL - Lucerne Festival Hall


KKL - Lucerne Festival Hall

Lucerne, August 25th, 1938. In the gardens facing Richard Wagner's villa in Tribschen, the legendary Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini lifts his baton to conduct an élite orchestra specially assembled for the occasion. Among the musicians he has gathered are renowned soloists and virtuoso chamber musicians, above all the Busch Quartet at the first desks of the strings, while the main body of the orchestra is filled from the ranks of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. The opportunity to play or hear musical masterpieces against the idyllic backdrop of Lake Lucerne seems to many people like a ray of hope in an age of darkness.

Much has changed, of course, in the seventy years of the Festival's existence. Its first season in 1938 included only ten concerts. Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds – some 120,000 music lovers visit the Festival every year – and it has become more diverse. The annual parade of the world's foremost orchestras began in the latter half of the 1950s with guest performances by the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. The 1970 Festival was the first to be given a special theme – an idea that has remained alive ever since. An excellent new concert hall, designed by French star architect Jean Nouvel, has been at the Festival's disposal since 1998.

But Arturo Toscanini's vision of presenting stellar performances far removed from duty rosters and workaday routine has remained alive. It was revitalized and reached a new flowering with foundation of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Claudio Abbado, which has opened the summer season since 2003. And since 2004 the Lucerne Festival Academy, headed by Pierre Boulez, has provided the Festival with its own educational institution, introducing highly gifted young musicians to the art of performing modern music.

Picture: Snapshot from the program Claudio Abbado conducts Bruckner: Symphony No. 5, available on medici.tv.

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