Lucerne Festival celebrates Diamond Jubilee


The KKL Luzern (Culture and Convention Centre)
Courtesy Lucerne Festival

The 2013 Lucerne Festival opens on August 16th, and this year celebrates not only its 75th anniversary, but the 10th anniversary of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Academy.  Special jubilee celebrations will take place on August 25th, in and around the KKL Luzern (Culture and Convention Centre), 75 years to the day since Arturo Toscanini led an orchestra of renowned soloists and chamber musicians for the opening concert of the first Festival, in the gardens facing Richard Wagner’s villa in Tribschen, near Lucerne.

Whilst paying tribute to its history, the Festival will also embrace the theme Revolution, as Lucerne looks towards a future influenced by Wagner’s cry of  “Children! Create something new!”.  Wagner spent a significant period of his life on Lake Lucerne, and in this, his 200th anniversary year, the focus of the programming in the Festival’s Summer of Revolution falls on the German composer who is best known for his operas. One of the highlights of the season will be the first complete performance in Lucerne of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, in concert format, by the Bamberg Symphony-Bavarian State Philharmonic conducted by Jonathan Nott.


Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Photo: Georg Anderhub

The Festival opens with Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in a programme of music by Brahms, Schoenberg and Beethoven – his Symphony No 3 (Eroica) – which will be broadcast live from the KKL onto a large screen at Lucerne’s Inseli Park.

In line with the theme of the Festival, Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic celebrate the 100th anniversary of that most revolutionary work by Stravinsky – his Rite of Spring – which caused such an uproar at its premiere in Paris in May 1913.


Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Photo: Peter Fischli

Continuing in this vein, the Festival also features the works of a range of other composers whose works were considered radical in their response to political, social or cultural revolutions –  from Carlo Gesualdo to Beethoven, from Berlioz to Schoenberg and from Shostakovich to Helmut Lachenmann.


The St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Maestro Temirkanov
Courtesy Lucerne Festival

In addition to appearances by Claudio Abbado and Pierre Boulez, the list of guest conductors and ensembles includes Daniel Barenboim – leading the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – Daniele Gatti with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Christian Thielemann conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden, Maris Janssons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Iván Fischer with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Manfred Honeck, Francois-Xavier Roth and the Southwest German Radio Symphony, the St Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov, Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic led by Lorin Maazel, Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and Rinaldo Alessandrini with Concerto Italiano.


Anne-Sophie Mutter
Photo: Harald Hoffmann

Among the solosists are violinists Daniel Hope, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Carolin Widmann; pianists Yefim Bronfman and Maurizio Pollini, and operatic luminaries Johan Botha, Mihoko Fujimura, Thomas Hampson, Barbara Hannigan and Dorothea Röschmann.


Daniel Barenboim with the West-Eastern Divan
Photo: Monika Rittershaus

Chaya Czernowin is the Summer 2013 ‘composer-in-residence’.  Pnima … ins Innere, her work for music theatre, created an international sensation during the 1998-99 season, and on August 29th, in cooperation with the Luzerner Theater, this chamber opera will be given its first performance in Switzerland. There will also be performances of her most important works of recent years, as well as two world premieres.  One of these is a commission by Lucerne Festival and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which will perform this new work under the direction of Daniel Barenboim on August 18th.

This year’s artistes étoiles are Mitsuko Uchida and Martin Grubinger.  Ms Uchida performs Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and also appears in recital – in an evening of chamber music with the Quatuor Ebène, and in a lieder evening with soprano Dorothea Röschmann.  Austrian percussionist, Martin Grubinger, performs ‘modernist classics’ featuring percussion and two pianos, and also appears in two percussion concertos written for him by John Corigliano and Freidrich Cerha.


Pierre Boulez with members of the Lucerne Festival Academy in 2007
Courtesy Lucerne Festival

For the past 10 years, the Lucerne Festival Academy has promoted the training of young musicians in the field of contemporary music, and from August 18th to September 9th, some 130 Academy participants will have the opportunity to study works of the 20th and 21st centuries with the Academy’s Artistic Director, Pierre Boulez, as well as with David Robertson, Pablo Heras-Casado and members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain as instrumental teachers.

The Festival presents 15 world premieres this year – by composers such as Benjamin Attahir, Chaya Czernowin, Saed Haddad, Christian Mason, Conlon Nancarrow, Michael Pelzel, Wolfgang von Schweinitz and Frank Zappa.

In another celebratory event, the Lucerne Festival and the recording label audite combine to launch a new CD series entitled Lucerne Festival Historic Performances – a series which will reproduce treasures from the first 60 years of the Festival’s history, and revive some of the most memorable moments of Lucerne festivals from the past.

Included amongst these recordings are performances by illustrious Festival artists such as Ernest Ansermet, Clara Haskil, Pierre Fournier and George Szell.  The original tapes from the radio archives of SRF Swiss Radio and Television are being restored, and the rich historical and artistic value of these performances will be supplemented with photographs and material from the Lucerne Festival archives.

In February this year, audite was named Label of the Year by the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA).  audite specialises in historical recordings, in addition to producing new releases.

Lucerne Festival in Summer runs from August 16th to September 15th.  For further information please visit, where you’ll also find information about tickets.


The KKL by night
Courtesy Lucerne Festival

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