Lucerne Festival – Switzerland

Extraordinary Music-Making in a Deserving Setting

If judged by quality rather than by glamour, turnout, or hype, the Lucerne Festival would be hard to beat. It is one of Europe’s oldest (inaugurated by Toscanini in 1938), most eclectic, and most appealing, usually mentioned in the same breath as the other major summer music events: Salzburg, Bayreuth, Aix-en- Provence, and even Glyndebourne.

A veritable Who’s Who of big-name conductors, orchestras (sometimes more than a dozen), soloists, and chamber ensembles perform at a variety of interesting locations, including the new, ultra-modern Culture and Convention Center. Positioned on the Lido-like banks of the gracious Lake Lucerne, it makes for a dra­matic departure from the city’s medieval storybook setting.

Lucerne is a tourist favorite in part because it embodies everyone’s image of a Swiss town. Wagner, who knew this area well, wrote, “I do not know of a more beautiful spot in this world!” and when in town stayed at the large 19th-century Schweizerhof Hotel (pris­tine after a 1999 renovation).

Its guest book is filled with the signatures of more recent festi­val folk like Pinchas Zukerman, Mstislav Rostropovich, and, hopefully, you.

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