Festival Introduction

LUCERNE FESTIVAL attracts classical music stars from all over the world. The world’s most-celebrated orchestras, legendary conductors, and virtuoso soloists gather in this idyllic setting nestled on Lake Lucerne, in the heart of Switzerland, to celebrate a festival of music. The KKL Lucerne, which was designed by Jean Nouvel, serves as the Festival “headquarters,” providing an outstanding concert hall that is acclaimed for its phenomenal acoustics and its exquisite architecture alike.

The highlight of Lucerne’s Festival year is the four-week-long Summer Festival, which presents more than 100 events in venues all over the city. It takes place from mid-August until mid-September and is devoted each year to a special theme around which the programming and selection of works are planned. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which Claudio Abbado founded in 2003, opens the Summer Festival. Since 2016, Riccardo Chailly has helmed this splendid ensemble, which comprises internationally acclaimed principals, chamber musicians, teachers, and members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and of the Filarmonica della Scala. Along with cultivating the traditional repertoire, which is interpreted by leading international performers, LUCERNE FESTIVAL is deeply committed to the realm of contemporary music. As a prominent example of the latter, the Festival runs its own master school for new music in the form of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, which Pierre Boulez founded and which Wolfgang Rihm has led since 2016. Here, highly talented young musicians from all around the world devote themselves exclusively to works from the 20th and 21st centuries. In addition, members of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI regular return to Lucerne to present their unique creative projects. Each Summer Festival also includes a focus on one or two composers-in-residence, whose work is given a spotlight. The programming moreover features “artistes étoiles”: particular performers who play a prominent role in the programming and who take part in presenting their artistry in a wide variety of contexts. Through such innovative event formats as the 40min series, LUCERNE FESTIVAL is forging new paths and opening the way towards a wider range of audiences. Additional initiatives that further this goal are the annual live transmissions of the Opening Concert in Inseli Park next to the KKL Luzern and the popular world music festival “In the Streets.”

Starting in 2020, LUCERNE FESTIVAL presents extended musical weekends, one each in the spring and the fall, which focus on distinguished artists or investigate special thematic contexts. These special weekends involve unusual programming concepts and event formats. Each year, some 110,000 guests make their way to LUCERNE FESTIVAL to listen to music that resounds as its creators conceived it. And this has been continuing now for more than 80 years!