For seventy years, a constellation of stars has illuminated the nights of Lucerne to form the greatest festival orchestra in the world.
From the first concert under the direction of Arturo Toscanini in August 1938 that marked the birth of the Lucerne Festival until its rebirth in 2003 under the direction of Claudio Abbado, this film is the story of a legend: every summer, the greatest conductors and the greatest orchestras head for Switzerland and the shores of the Lake of the Four Cantons, to the delight of symphonic music lovers.
To tell this story, the documentary is interspersed with precious witness accounts: those of Claudio Abbado who defines his vision of the festival orchestra, of cellist Natalia Gutman, of clarinettist Sabine Meyer, of a chorus member present in 1939 at the rendition of the Verdi Requiem conducted by Toscanini and of a musician who has been in the orchestra since 1951…
As a premium, unique archives: Herbert von Karajan evokes in two interviews (1967 and 1987) his experiences at the Swiss event, Yehudi Menuhin in 1961 remembers his meeting with Wilhelm Furtwängler in Lucerne. Fascinating.
Photo: © Priska Ketterer
Lucerne Festival 2003