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Tibor Varga festival to be renamed

Tibor Varga wants his international violin competition to be independent of the Sion music festival named after him for nearly 40 years Keystone Archive

The violinist Tibor Varga has severed his links with the summer music festival named after him at Sion in Canton Valais. He says he no longer wants his name associated with the event, following disagreements with the festival committee.

This content was published on October 29, 2001 - 12:01

Since the 1960s, the Tibor Varga festival has developed into one of the most prestigious events of its kind in Europe. It evolved from a music academy founded in Sion by Varga, and an annual violin competition. Both continue to attract promising young musicians from throughout the world.

But last year the festival ran into financial difficulties. The threat of its closure led to a radical restructuring and the appointment of a new organising committee under the presidency of Jean-Roger Bonvin.

This year's festival, which attracted a total audience of 6,000 for 32 concerts, was hailed as a success by Bonvin. However in his resignation statement, Varga said the same number of concerts in 2000 had attracted some 18,000 people. He blamed the shortfall on "bad marketing".

Now it's "Sion Festival"

For his part, Bonvin has said that the 2001 event ended with a balanced budget of SFr1.3 million. He added that it would continue to take place every year and in future would be called the "Sion Festival".

Born in Hungary in 1921, Tibor Varga made his concert debut at the age of 10 and since his early teens has performed throughout the world with many of the leading orchestras and conductors of the 20th century. He has also made numerous recordings, both as solo violinist and as conductor.

Varga's son Gilbert - also a conductor - succeeded him as artistic director of the Sion festival in 1997 and will continue in that role.

While withdrawing his name from the event, Varga senior says his international violin competition will in future be independent from the festival and he will continue to teach at the music academy he founded in Sion.

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