Music Of Switzerland
Below you find our picks for Switzerland
music currently available at Amazon.com. Click on the compact disk cover
to purchase the disc.
The Grand Théâtre on Place Neuve (©_M.Quintana)
Classical music, theatre and film
There’s plenty of classical music in Geneva. The
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which shuttles between Geneva and
Lausanne, is one of Europe’s best, and often performs – in amongst
big-name visiting orchestras and soloists – at the glittering
Victoria Hall, 14 Rue Général-Dufour (022/328 81 21). The Grand Théâtre
on Place Neuve (022/311 23 11) has a continuous programme of classical
concerts and chamber music, and both it and the Grand Casino, 19 Quai
du Mont-Blanc (022/732 06 00), stage plenty of opera. There are
free classical concerts in many of Geneva’s churches year-round, and
open-air concerts at the Hôtel-de-Ville in July and August. The
Conservatoire de Musique, also on Place Neuve (022/311 76 33), hosts a
prestigious annual international competition for young soloists in
You may come across high-quality amateur theatre
companies performing in English: TIE (Theatre in English; 022/341 51
90) has details of productions by GEDS (Geneva English Drama Society),
LTG (Little Theater of Geneva) and GAOS (Geneva Amateur Operatic
Society). However, most theatre is in French. The Comédie de Genève,
6 Boulevard des Philosophes (022/320 50 01), is the main stage for
classic drama, and the huge Bâtiments des Forces Motrices (BFM),
formerly housing hydroelectric machinery on the Rhône, has been
converted into a gigantic, lofty space for contemporary theatre and
occasional opera (Quai des Forces Motrices; 022/322 12 20). There are
also dozens of smaller, more experimental theatres, including Théâtre
La Poche, 7 Rue du Cheval Blanc (022/310 37 59), and Théâtre du Grütli,
16 Rue Général-Dufour (022/328 98 78). Kids will love Les
Marionettes de Genève, 3 Rue Rodo (022/329 67 67). The Théâtre de
l’Usine on Place des Volontaires often features avant-garde dance
As for film, you’ll find dozens of city-centre
cinemas showing Hollywood releases (often ahead of London), but you
should check in the listings for “v.o.” (version originale),
which indicates original dialogue with French subtitles – many
prime-time showings are dubbed. The tiny handful of non-commercial
movies you might be able to discover rarely feature English subtitles.
Every summer there are big open-air screenings of all kinds of movies
on the waterfront at Port Noir. The Geneva Film Festival, every
October, is devoted to airing the work of unknowns from around Europe.
From the Rough Guide to Switzerland
published by Rough Guides Ltd, London, who retains the
copyright. Buy the book at Amazon.com
or at Amazon.co.uk.
for the main page.
has long had a distinct cultural identity, despite its diversity of German,
and other ethnicities. Religious and folk music dominated the country until
century, with growth in production of other kinds of music occurring
slowly. The first music conservatory in the country was founded in Geneva
Composers like Hans George Naegeli and festivals like the Fête des
Vignerons helped establish a classical
music tradition, and the Swiss Musicians Association was founded in 1900.
The early part of the 20th
century saw Ernest
Ansermet's Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which was the focal point for
musical innovation in Switzerland. Other musicians included Ernest Block, Arthur
Honegger and Rolf Lieberman.
The rural Appenzell
region is a major center of folk music. Apenzell Quartetts were popular
throughout Switzerland playing string quartets adding Austrian influences to
popular acclaim. More recently, the band Appenzeller Space Schöttl has
added psychedelic and other avant-garde influences to the music.
Pop and rock
Later in the 20th century, in the 1960s,
and roll, or beat music, was popular, peaking in 1968
with the release of Les Sauterelles' "Heavenly Club". Rock began
its Swiss popularity beginning in 1957,
when the Hula Hawaiians incorporated rockabilly,
setting the stage for the early 1960s
boom. The Francophone section of Switzerland soon found itself dominated by
French stars like Johnny
Hallyday, and soon Swiss artists like Les Aiglons, Larry Greco and Les
Faux-Frères became major artists.
saw Beatles-inspired pop take hold on the continent, displacing the earlier
instrumental rock and inspired musical battles in Basel,
the capital of Swiss rock. Swiss bands in the same mold included The 16
Strings and Pichi, and German-speaking acts soon dominated the field. Zürich
then became a center of innovation, drawing on Chris Lange's blues-roots
explorations, Heiner Hepp's Bob
Dylan-inspired folk and Toni Vescoli's pop fame. Other Swiss artists of
the period included R&B
act The Nightbirds from Locarno, light rock stars The Wild Gentlemen and pop
band Marco Zappa & the Teenagers. In 1967,
artists like Mani Matter, Franz Hohler, Sergius Golowin, and Kurt Marti
began establishing Swiss-German dialect rock, glorifying their distinct
national identities. 1973
saw the first commercial release of dialect rock with Rumpelstilz's "Warehuus
Blues"; the band broke into the mainstream in 1976
with the release of the reggae-influenced
chart-topper Füüf Narre im Charre.
By 1968, Swiss rock was dying, and artists were exploring sonic
innovations. Basel's Barry Window, for example, used soul
music to make raga rock, while The Sauterelles explored psychedelia.
Progressive music formed by the 1970s,
blues and other genres were combined with socially aware lyrics, outlandish
solos and macho posturing. The first band of the progressive rock boom was supergroup
Krokodil, and The Shiver and Brainticket soon followed. Sinus Studio in Bern,
and engineers Eric Merz and Peter McTaggart, became the center of innovation
by the mid-1970s, however.
Later in the decade, hard
rock became popular and Toad soon established a Swiss scene with the
debut single, "Stay!", setting the stage for the 1980
explosion of Krokus, the most popular rock band in Swiss history. By this
Wave and pub
rock had become popular, while The Swiss Horns, Red Devil Band and
Circus from Basel continued to expand musical boundaries. A Swiss band, Celtic
Frost, soon became a leading heavy
metal band and have inspired much of European 90s metal.
Swiss punk is best represented by pioneers like Kleenex, Deiter Meier,
The Nasal Boys, Troppo, Mother's Ruin, TNT, Dogbodys, Taxi
and Sperma, who were inspired by American underground heroes like the New
York Dolls and British celebrities like the Sex
Pistols. Zürich was Switzerland's capital of punk rock, which soon
expanded across the country. Other areas with a punk scene included Bern'
Glueams and Lucerne's
Crazy. Pioneers Le Beau Lac de Bâle established a Francophone New
Wave-influenced punk rock scene based out of Geneva, and bands like the
Bastards, Yodler Killers, The Tickets, The Zero Heroes, Technycolor arose.
Later in the 80s, Swiss punk bands began drifting in New Wave and
techno, where Vera Kaa soon became the biggest Swiss star. 1983
saw Ex-Trem Normal release "Warum" and "Welcome to
Switzerland", which revolutionized Bernese rock by adding distinctive
dialect trends. They were followed by Züri West and other bands.
Wagner, Christopher. "The Alpunk Phenomenon". 2000. In
Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane,
Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East,
pp 7-12. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
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