Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux Jazz Festival
The Montreux Jazz Festival, formerly known as Festival de Jazz Montreux and Festival International de Jazz Montreux, is an annual jazz festival held in the municipality of Montreux, Switzerland. The world’s second largest annual jazz festival after the Montreal International Jazz Festival, it takes place every June.

The first Montreux Jazz Festival was held at Montreux Casino in 1967. It was founded by Claude Nobs, René Langel and Géo Voumard. Nobs remained the main manager of the festival until his death in 2013. The inaugural festival lasted for three days and had an impressive line-up featuring world-class jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Jan Garbarek, Nina Simone, Bill Evans, Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, and others.

Montreux Casino had remained the main venue until 1971 when it burned down during a performance by Frank Zappa (this event is referenced in the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water”). For several years, the festival was held in other venues throughout Montreux. It returned to the rebuilt Casino in 1975 and expanded to the Montreux Music & Convention Center in 1995.

Currently the center hosts the three ticketed venues (Montreux Jazz Club, Auditorium Stravinski and Montreux Jazz Lab). Besides, there are free open-air performances and workshops on the shore of Lake Geneva (the Music in the Park program) and a series of smaller, more intimate paid and free concerts and jam sessions at local jazz clubs, cafes and other venues.

Originally an almost exclusively jazz festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival began expanding its program in the 1970s. Today it encompasses classical and contemporary jazz, blues, soul, rock and other music styles and genres, featuring international artists from all continents. Of course, jazz remains the core of the festival. The Montreux Jazz Festival lasts for three weeks and attracts over 200,000 music lovers and jazz connoisseurs from all over Switzerland and abroad.

The festival hosts three international competitions organized by the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation. They were created to launch young talents from all over the world, giving them a platform to shine. The competitions are Solo Piano, Voice and Electric Guitar. Each competition has its own jury consisting of renowned professionals and chaired by a world-class musician. The festival also hosts a local competition for jazz bands based in the Lake Geneva region.

Montreux Jazz Festival

Photo: Fotis Karagiannis




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