Dear friends of LuganoMusica,

Have you ever wondered when the history of music began? Or from what moment and how did music-making become an integral part of human culture? These are fascinating, important and fundamental questions that are difficult to answer, especially if the answer has to be unique, unambiguous and exhaustive. They are, however, questions that one must never stop asking, especially if – as is the case for LuganoMusica – one has an institutional role in musical culture.

Looking back over the last nine years – since autumn 2015 when the LuganoMusica programme was inaugurated together with the LAC – it would be fair to say that we have never evaded this essential task. On the contrary, our evoked responses have been multiple and varied.

Of course, if the "beginning of musical culture" means the sound messages sent on leather drums or bone flutes in prehistoric times, we must admit that we have not gone that far. But if, like many others, we relate the beginning of musical culture to the notation of sounds – a self-conscious script of its own with a constantly evolving poetic and stylistic meaning – we can say that we have indeed started from that beginning (i.e. from the 12th century in which Lenoninus and Perotinus lived) and that we have steadily progressed up to the present day.

The new 2023-2024 season renews this dialectical and transversal relationship with the history of music in an embrace spanning almost four centuries that ideally begins in 1692 (the year Henry Purcell wrote The Fairy Queen) and continues to the present day. Like any human history, the history of musical culture is not a straight line but rather a network of paths that cross and diverge. Thus our new programme offers several thematic and content lines that coexist – sometimes in parallel, sometimes overlapping – thus creating fruitful and virtuoso relationships.

The true protagonists of this transversality will be two exceptional spokesmen – Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven – whose works will punctuate the symphonic, recital and chamber music programmes throughout the season.

If Bach and Purcell put forward a baroque music context – with a touch of magic thanks to the welcomed return of performers such as Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra or Diego Fasolis with I Barocchisti and the Swiss Radio and Television Choir, as well as the guitar duo Thibaut Garcia and Antoine Morinière – there will also be room in this thematic line-up for the LAC debut of one of Europe's most highly regarded ensembles regarding historically informed performance (Les Arts Florissants directed by William Christie) in a lavish staging of The Fairy Queen, enhanced with choreography.

The symphonic programme equally associates much-appreciated comebacks (the Orchestra Mozart with Daniele Gatti, the European Philharmonic of Switzerland with Charles Dutoit, the Filarmonica della Scala with Riccardo Chailly, the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester with Michael Sanderling, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester with Vladimir Jurowsky) with significant debuts, including one of Switzerland's finest chamber orchestras (the Kammerorchester Basel with Jonathan Cohen) and one of today's greatest conductors, Sir Simon Rattle with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (which we already hosted in the inaugural season under the late Bernard Haitink).

The presence of pianists is another distinctive thread that runs through the history of LuganoMusica. Whether in recital, chamber music or as symphonic soloists, the pianists we'll be hosting in the 2023- 2024 season constitute a sort of Gotha of contemporary performance: Martha Argerich, Sir András Schiff, Rudolf Buchbinder, Grigory Sokolov, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Antonio Ballista and Martin Helmchen (in a duo with Frank Peter Zimmermann). Two prodigiously talented youngsters (Yoav Levanon and Alexandra Dovgan) will appear alongside these star pianists, as well as the multifaceted flair of one of the world's most unusual chamber ensembles: the Gershwin Piano Quartet.

As far as new music is concerned, we will be celebrating two significant anniversaries together: the 100th anniversary of György Ligeti's birth (in conjunction with the past season, we will again see the LuganoMusica Ensemble in the foreground, as well as a collaboration with the Ensemble 900presente of the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana) and the 80th birthday of Lugano composer Francesco Hoch, to whom a monographic concert will be dedicated.

Musical topicality will be further highlighted by the EAR (Electro Acoustic Room) and Early Night Modern (in collaboration with Oggimusica) proposals. The uniqueness of the string quartet weekend is also confirmed, as well as the encounter with promising young performers in the programme's spring offer.

Four hundred years of music that, far from being a burden, are an incentive to look at and listen to the future of our culture. And if, in a few words, I have tried to give you a foretaste of the LuganoMusica 2023-2024 season, I now refer you to the following pages for any further information.

I look forward to seeing you all in the concert hall.

Best regards,

Etienne Reymond, Director