At the end of Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne is the picturesque city of Lucerne, a cultural hub in the region.

Most famous of all Lucerne’s cultural offerings are the annual Lucerne Festivals, which take place at Easter, Summer and Autumn. Here, musical masterpieces have been performed by world class orchestras and musicians for over 75 years.

About Lucerne Festival

On 25 August 1938, the Lucerne Festival was born with the flick of a baton. In a time of growing Nazi tyranny, the free country of Switzerland provided the backdrop for a rare musical presentation. Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini gathered together elite international musicians for his orchestra, and entertained music lovers with 10 concerts in Lucerne.

The Lucerne Festival has grown hugely over the years, now having around 120,000 annual visitors. Along with the Summer Festival, music fans have enjoyed the Lucerne Festival at Easter since 1988, and Lucerne Festival at the Piano since 1998.

Many of the Festival events take place in the stunning KKL Luzern Concert Hall, which is a short walk along the waterfront to our Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne.

Each year the Festival has a special theme, as well as a ‘Composer in Residence’ whose music provides a focus for the festival. The Festival also presents an ‘Artiste étoile’. Since 2004 the Lucerne Festival Academy has given talented young musicians training in performance, and young musicians are celebrated further in the Début Recitals.

Lucerne Festival at Easter

The Lucerne Festival at Easter takes place from 5 April to 13 April 2014. Dutch maestro Bernard Haitink opens the Easter Festival with a performance marking a project dedicated to Robert Schumann. Haitink debuted at the Festival in 1966, and this year celebrates his 85th birthday with 3 concerts at the Easter and Summer Festivals. The concerts will cover all 4 symphonies and 3 instrumental concertos by Robert Schumann.

Works by several famous masters can be enjoyed at the Easter Festival. Claudio Abbado and his Orchestra Mozart will perform the ‘Scottish Symphony’ by Felix Mendelssohn, who Robert Schumann described as the “Mozart of the 19th century”. Beethoven’s powerful ‘Missa solemnis’ will be presented by András Schiff with his Cappella Andrea Barca, the Balthasar Neumann Choir, and 4 excellent soloists.

Choral music is celebrated with 3 concerts, including one from award-winning British ensemble Stile Antico in their Lucerne debut as they sing Passion Renaissance music. Two young conductors, Latvian Andris Nelsons and Venezuelan Gustavo Dudame, provide the focus for the Easter residency with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the Lucerne Festival at Easter can be booked online on the Lucerne Festival website.

Lucerne Festival in Summer

From 15 August to 14 September 2014 visitors can enjoy the Lucerne Festival in Summer. The theme for the Summer Festival is that of ‘Psyche’ – the power of music. Composers in Residence for the Lucerne Festival at Summer are Korean Unsuk Chin and Austrian Johannes Maria Staud.

Claudio Abbado opens the Festival with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and alto Sara Mingardo, as they perform rousing works by Brahms.

Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan and violinist Midori are “Artiste étoile” for Lucerne. Midori will perform in 3 concerts, with recitals of works by Bach, and a Symphony concert with Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and James Gaffigan. The Summer Festival will feature 3 performances from Hannigan, with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, Simon Rattle and Matthias Pintscher. Her concerts will include a late-night performance of Ligeti’s ‘Mysteries of the Macabre’ and world premiere of Staud’s ‘Zimt. A Diptych for Bruno Schulz’.

The Début Recitals series offers patrons the chance to see a number of talented emerging musicians. Recitals from Annelien Van Wauwe on clarinet and Lucas Blondeel on piano will include pieces by Debussy and Brahms. At the Church of St Luke, the Amaryllis Quartet will perform famous string compositions by Haydn, Berg and Beethoven.

Find out more about the Lucerne Festival in Summer on the Lucerne Festivals website. Tickets for the Summer Festival can be booked online from 10 March 2014.

Lucerne Festival at the Piano

Later in the year, patrons can visit the Lucerne Festival at the Piano for a special celebration of the work of Beethoven. All 5 of Beethoven’s piano concertos will be performed by Norwegian master pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. British pianist Paul Lewis will play 3 of Beethoven’s last piano sonatas, while Martin Helmchen will perform the Diabelli Variations.

The Piano Festival takes place in Lucerne from 22 to 30 November 2014, and tickets can be purchased from the Lucerne Festivals website from 04 August 2014.

What’s the most stimulating concert you’ve ever attended?