Lausanne and classical music
Taste forever, excellence today
By Antonin Scherrer
For centuries, Lausanne has been a major stopping off point, a crossroads of cultures. "Lausanne’s tastes were those of the Parisians of the time," wrote William de Sévery.
In 1766, a certain Mozart stayed in the city of Davel and performed two recitals there. Most of the great musicians of the 19th and 20th centuries stopped there, including Felix Mendelssohn and Robert and Clara Schumann.
People were crazy about marathon-concerts. The Casino-Théâtre was visited by "stars" like Eugène Ysaÿe, Henryk Wieniawski and Giovanni Bottesini. From Louis Armstrong to Carl Schuricht, from Alfred Cortot to Arthur Rubinstein, there are many who have devoted a few lines to the city in their notebooks or correspondence.
Ecole Normale and Conservatory
Beyond these prestigious names, if Lausanne can call itself a city of music lovers, it’s because it has a day-to-day involvement with Euterpe’s art that goes well beyond these brilliant yet fleeting visits from the stars.
It begins with its teaching structures: a school open to the public, of course, and also the Ecole Normale, which trains generations of chorus leaders, tireless deliverers of music (such as André Charlet, Jacques Pache, Jean-Jacques Rapin, etc.).
Here, we also find future big names in classical music, like the tenor Eric Tappy and the conductor Marcello Viotti. Professionally speaking, the Conservatory reigns supreme. For a few decades – particularly since the opening of its new location in 1990 – it has never stopped gaining prestige. The Academy and the Camerata of Lausanne, created by the violinist Pierre Amoyal, draw worldwide attention to its name and its excellence in teaching.
The Sinfonietta, a symphony group founded in 1981 by Jean-Marc Grob, is another example, offering young graduates an excellent start to their professional careers.
The Opéra and the OCL
Emanating almost directly from this rich and dynamic musical background, several institutions wave the Lausanne flag even beyond the city limits. First are two heavyweights from the cultural stage: the Opéra and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.
Taking advantage of the interest in the art form generated by the Lausanne International Festival, the Opéra has grown significantly since the mid-1980s thanks to the decisive will of city officials and the flair of its then leader Renée Auphan. This blossoming continues today under the leadership of Eric Vigié.
Founded in 1942 by Victor Desarzens, the OCL answers Lausanne’s need to have its own professional group. Sixty-five years later, this need still exists. At its home, the Métropole, the orchestra is enjoying the glory of its artistic director Christian Zacharias, who is opening doors previously not even dreamed about.
EVL, SMC, Sine Nomine, etc.
More modest in size and resources but no less prestigious are other institutions involved in keeping Lausanne’s “musical legend” alive. Examples include the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, founded in 1961 by Michel Corboz of Fribourg; the Sine Nomine quartet, the 1985 winner of the prestigious Concours d’Evian; the Bach Festival, launched in 1997 by the organist Kei Koito, spearheading an increasingly rich offering of old music; and the Société de Musique Contemporaine, whose concerts continue to see their attendances increase.
Service de la culture
Place de la Palud
Hôtel de Ville
Case postale 6904
Phone +41 21 315 25 25
Fax +41 21 315 20 30
tl: Saint-François, Bel-Air
m1: Lausanne-Flon; m2: Riponne-M. Béjart