For ten years, ever since Lucerne Festival celebrated its 75th anniversary in the summer of 2013, we have been making numerous highlights from the Festival’s rich history  accessible through the “Historic Performances” CD series. These releases are undertaken in conjunction with the audite label, which for this purpose has meticulously restored the sound of the original tapes from the archives of Swiss Radio and Television SRF.

Each recording is supplemented by numerous previously unpublished photos from the Festival archives and is accompanied by detailed essays that portray the artists and provide important information on the biographical, historical, and interpretive background of the concerts: a sonic history of the Festival.

Outstanding performances by legendary artists have been selected for this series. Since Lucerne Festival has always featured the greatest names in the world of music, the roster for the “Historic Performances” CDs reads like a who’s who of classical music: Claudio Abbado, Géza Anda, Ernest Ansermet, Karl Böhm, Robert Casadesus, Annie Fischer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Leon Fleisher, Pierre Fournier, Ferenc Fricsay, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Carlo Maria Giulini, Clara Haskil, Armin Jordan, Herbert von Karajan, Otto Klemperer, Paul Kletzki, Rafael Kubelík, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Edith Mathis, Nathan Milstein, Dimitri Mitropoulos, John Ogdon, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Carl Schuricht, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Isaac Stern, George Szell, and the like.

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Isaak Stern plays the finale from Tchaikovskys Violin Concerto

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Pierre Fournier plays “El cant dels ocells”

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Paul Kletzki conducts Brahms’s Fourth Symphony

The context of live performance and of the unique Festival atmosphere makes these interpretations especially compelling, inspiring, and moving. In many cases, the historical background seems to flow directly into the performance itself. For example, in the summer of 1968, just a few days after the brutal suppression of the “Prague Spring” by the troops of the Warsaw Pact, the exiled Czech Rafael Kubelík, who had resettled in Lucerne, conducted a passionate performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

“Historic Performances” releases have received numerous international awards, including the Diapason d’or, the German Record Critics’ Prize, and the International Classical Music Award (ICMA).

audite celebrates its 50th label anniversary in 2023.

Herbert von Karajan playing the alphorn in Lucerne 1963 © Paul Weber / Archive Lucerne Festival

From Abbado to Szell

“10 Years of Historic Performances” Anniversary Promotion: All CDs for CHF 10 and great Conductors and Soloists in a Package

New CD Box

Herbert von Karajan: The Early Lucerne Years: 1952–1957, with Géza Anda, Robert Casadesus, Clara Haskil, Nathan Milstein, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Swiss Festival Orchestra