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Lucerne celebrates 300 years piano music

The festival is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Bach's death.

(Piano Festival 2000 Lucerne)

Some of the world's top musicians are tuning up for this year's piano festival in Lucerne, which gets underway on Tuesday. Piano festival 2000 is marking the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, as well as nearly 300 years of piano music.

It's rare that a musical festival has such a significant anniversary to celebrate, and Lucerne's Piano Festival 2000 intends to make the most of it.

The musical honours for Johann Sebastian Bach kick off on November 23, with an evening dedicated to "Swinging Bach" by Jacques Lousier and his trio. Their tribute will be followed on Sunday, with Bach recitals by master pianist Bernd Glemser.

Beyond and between Bach, fans will be treated to recitals of Schubert, Debussy and Chopin by Mitsuko Uchida. The talents of Michail Pletnev will also be tested to the full when he takes to the keys to interpret the formidable concertos of Rachmaninov.

Other highlights include Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing Debussy, and recitals by Julian Evans, Peter Waters and Kenny Drew Jr.

The festival, which takes place in Lucerne's culture and congress centre, falls just nine years short of the 300th anniversary of the piano itself.

In 1709, the Florentine Bartolommeo Cristofori (1655-1731) worked out how to produce music from a mechanised system of hammers. Nearly 40 years later, Bach tested Gottfried Silbermann's first "pianoforte" at the court of the Prussian king, Friedrich.

Bach's compositions, played on the precursors to the modern piano, would probably not have appealed to modern ears. The sounds at Lucerne certainly will.

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