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 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 visitors from Switzerland, Europe, and all around the world.

The Summer Festival takes place annually from mid-August to mid-September. It opens every year with a performance 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 of 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 which has been led by Wolfgang Rihm since 2016. Here, highly talented young musicians from all around the world devote themselves exclusively to works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Along with cultivating the traditional repertoire, which is performed by leading international performers, LUCERNE FESTIVAL is deeply committed to the realm of contemporary music. It presents one or two composers-in-residence each year and gives their works a spotlight. In addition, a focus on “artistes étoiles” features specific performers who are a prominent part of 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 on the program. Through such innovative event formats as the 40min series and Young Performance program, LUCERNE FESTIVAL is forging new paths and opening the way toward a wider range of audiences. Offerings that are  especially popular with Lucerne residents are the annual broadcast of the Opening Night concert at Inseli Park, the In the Streets Festival, and the Day of Experience, which is always held on a Sunday during the festival season.

As part of its new Festival strategy, Lucerne Festival will launch a new format starting in 2020. A weekend of concerts will take place each autumn and spring, respectively, which will feature artists from LUCERNE FESTIVAL's in-house projects, including the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Academy and the Lucerne Festival Alumni. The exact program will be announced in late autumn 2019. As part of this strategy, the Easter and Piano Festivals will be discontinued as of 2020.

The 2019 Piano Festival will take place from 16 to 24 November 2019 as planned.