Since 2003, when Claudio Abbado formed his own orchestra of players hand-picked from Europe's best ensembles, the MCO has formed the core of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (LFO). This spring, music director Riccardo Chailly and the LFO have created a new annual festival. The first edition focuses on composer Felix Mendelssohn and his contemporaries, bringing Mendelssohn's five symphonies into dialogue with Richard Wagner, Robert Schumann, and Hector Berlioz.
Following Mendelssohn’s death, Richard Wagner vilified his colleague in a devastating anti-Semitic pamphlet titled Das Judentum in der Musik (“Judaism in Music”), accusing him of never having achieved a “profoundly heart-and-soul-gripping effect” in his works. Combining Mendelssohn's Third and Fifth Symphonies with Wagner's Prelude to Parsifal and the Ride of the Valkyries from the third act of his opera Die Walküre, the program reveals Wagner's actual admiration for Mendelssohn and demonstrates how he often took up the composers’s ideas.
A chamber concert showcases Robert Schumann's Three Romances for Oboe and Piano, and his Piano Quartet in E-flat major, which complement Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat major. The influential friendship between the composers is demostrated through the similarity in the works.
The latter part of the Festival brings Hector Berlioz into focus alongside Mendelssohn. The two composers were in Italy during 1830-31, and Mendelssohn's Fourth Symphony, the Italian, was written based on his impressions from this time. Berlioz later included the piece in his repertoire as a conductor.