State-of-the-art organ makes debut at Lucerne festival

The completed organ adds the finishing touch to Lucerne's Culture and Congress Centre Keystone

The finishing touch has been put to one of the newest and most prestigious concert halls in Europe. The Lucerne Culture and Congress centre has inaugurated a state-of-the-art organ to mark the opening of this year's international music festival.

This content was published on August 17, 2000 minutes

The organ made its debut with "Festliches Präludium", a rarely performed work by Richard Strauss, which was first played at the inauguration of the Vienna Concert House in 1913.

The organ has over 60 registers, and is based on the so-called French-Romantic sound ideal. Played on a purely mechanical basis, this allows for optimum sound, which is particularly appropriate given that the auditorium is said to be as near acoustically perfect as you can get.

It could quite easily have been built by a specialist firm in North America or Germany. But in the end it was manufactured much closer to home - by a Lucerne company called Goll, which until 20 years ago was a very modest local operation.

"Now the firm has an international reputation," says Erich Singer, project leader for the planning and installation of the organ. "We had offers from manufacturers in the United States, Germany and Italy, but eventually decided on Goll - not out of patriotism but for the quality of its product."

The theme of this year's festival is "Metamorphoses" - the second part of a trilogy about change. Last year it was "Myths" and in 2001 it will be "Creation".

As usual in Lucerne, many of the world's leading musicians will be performing at the festival, which ends on September 16. They include the pianists Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel and Andras Schiff, the clarinettist Sabine Meyer, and conductors Riccardo Chailly, Zubin Mehta and Kurt Masur.

Bernard Haitink is conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in place of Claudio Abbado, who has had to stand down for health reasons. Another absentee - also for reasons of health - is the violinist Isaac Stern, who made his European debut at Lucerne in 1948 and has just celebrated his 80th birthday.

Two anniversaries will be celebrated with concerts - the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach and the 75th birthday of the French composer and conductor, Pierre Boulez, who will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.

by Richard Dawson

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