Festival Introduction

Music that sounds like its composers imagined it. Musicians who dedicate themselves to their craft with devotion and passion. Audiences who immerse themselves in a world of sound far removed from the stress of daily life. LUCERNE FESTIVAL is what makes all this possible – and it has been doing so for 80 years.

Famous orchestras, legendary conductors, and virtuoso soloists join together three times a year on the idyllic location of Lake Lucerne to celebrate the joy of music. In the concert hall designed by Jean Nouvel, which is renowned for its phenomenal acoustics and its exquisite architecture alike, they encounter an audience that is no less international and sophisticated. Some 110,000 visitors annually make the trip to Lucerne to experience one of the most exquisite and storied music festivals and to hear the international stars of classical music right in the heart of Switzerland.

The Summer Festival is the largest of the three annual festivals: within a period of just four weeks you can experience more than 100 events, among them some 30 symphony concerts. Every year since 2003 it has been launched by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which Claudio Abbado founded in 2003. Since 2016 Riccardo Chailly has helmed this splendid ensemble comprising internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians, teachers, and members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Filarmonica della Scala. The Festival also includes its own master school for new music in the form of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, which was founded by Pierre Boulez and Festival Director Michael Haefliger and which has been led by Wolfgang Rihm since 2016. Along with cultivating the traditional repertoire, which is performed by leading international performers, LUCERNE FESTIVAL is deeply committed to the realm of contemporary music: each year the work of one or two composers-in-residence is given a spotlight. Also receiving a focus are “artistes étoiles,” specific performers who are prominent in the programming and who actively present their art in a wide variety of contexts. Each summer is devoted to a specific theme that governs the choice of works in the programming. Such innovative event formats as the 40min and Young Performance series LUCERNE FESTIVAL is forging new paths and opening the way toward a wider range of audiences.

Established in 1988, the Easter Festival takes place each spring two weeks before Easter and runs through Palm Sunday, with a special focus given to sacred music, whether in the Salle blanche of the KKL or through concerts in the atmospheric ambience of Lucerne’s churches. The youngest of the three festivals, the Piano Festival has been taking place every year in November since 1998. Celebrated keyboard virtuosos and emerging stars come to Lucerne for nine days to perform recitals, concerts of piano music, and chamber music. And Piano “Off-Stage” complements the classical programming with long nights of jazz in Lucerne’s finest bars.