The Lucerne Festival is a series of classical music festivals based in Lucerne, Switzerland. Founded in 1938, it currently produces three festivals per year, attracting some 110,000 visitors annually taking place since 2004 primarily at the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre designed by Jean Nouvel. Each festival features resident orchestras and soloists alongside guest performances from international ensembles and artists, in 2017 including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Emanuel Ax, Martha Argerich and Maxim Vengerov.
The festival started with the so-called "Concert de Gala" in the gardens of Richard Wagner's villa at Triebchen in 1938 conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who had formed an orchestra with members of different orchestras and soloists from around Europe. With the rise of the Nazi regime several major performers and conductors, including Toscanini, Fritz Busch and Bruno Walter decided not to perform in the traditional German and Austrian music festivals such as the Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg festival. In the 1940s the Swiss Festival Orchestra was founded from members of the elite Swiss orchestras, which became a central part of the festival known since 1943 as the Internationalen Musikfestwochen Luzern . In 2000 it was renamed as the Lucerne Festival and is currently part of the European Festivals Association.
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