Verbier takes a dip

Verbier takes a dip


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2014

In an end-of-festival symmary, upbeat director Martin Egstroem is calling it ‘our fourth best year’, after 2013, 2007 and 2011. But there’s no denying that numbers were down. Only 17 percent of tickets were sold during the festival itself, despite stellar attractions.

Engstroem blames bad weather. That’s Verbier for you.




  • Louise says:

    I’m sorry to hear that the Verbier Festival reports falling attendance, although I am not at all surprised. The verbier festival has strayed too far from its roots and has emerged as an elitist affair, with little to no variation year after year. It is stagnant and run like a closed society for insiders, who “tolerate” outsiders attendance. If one looks at their programme, each year nearly looks the same. The same artists, the same partnerships, the same faces, the same sort of repertoire in the same venues. It has become a stale festival and I don’t attend anymore, nor do three of my very good friends, two of them living in Geneva. They feel the same way. Too snobbish, too elitist, too cliquish, too pretentious. Perhaps the problem is that the festival pretends not to be any of those things, pretends to be open and relaxed and “cool”, but it sadly isn’t. If it would openly embrace its snobbishness and cliquishness, then it might work, but until then it is a contradiction and has become very boring.

  • sdReader says:

    Well, they don’t do a good job of marketing. We are a 4-hour drive away and on the lists at several festivals, but we hear nothing from Verbier.

  • anon says:

    In addition to the cliqueishness (what if I don’t want to hear the Capuçons again?), it’s also inconvenient to get there and far too expensive to get a younger crowd. When the restaurants in town are advertising lunch bento boxes for 29 Swiss dollars, it’s amazing ANY people under 50 attend at all!

  • operacritic says:

    I agree with the remarks above re. snobs. Many people I have met know little of music and go for networking. It has always been an elitist festival, even more so than Glyndebourne, where people can boast of having attended but sadly unable to appreciate what they have heard.

  • Nick says:

    I am sad that the Festival seems to have gone downhill in terms of appeal to a more general public. I was only there once but loved the ‘feeling’ of the town at Festival time and lots of walks in the mountains.

    That was the 10th Festival which co-incided with Steinway’s 150th. Eight Concert Grands had been hauled up the mountainside for a rather extraordinary concert. The first half started with Kissin and Argerich playing a Mozart four-hand sonata and ended with their being joined by Levine and Pletnev for the Bach 4 keyboard concerto. The amazing part was that the orchestra, led by Gidon Kremer, included artists of the calibre of Sarah Chang, Vadim Repin, Nobuko Imai and Mischa Maisky. The second half was a bit of candy floss for 8 pianists adding in the likes of Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax and Andsnes.

    But the revelation for me was James Levine’s Festival Orchestra, presumably put together for him and made up of about 100 extraordinary young musicians from around the world. The opening concert performance of Elektra with Deborah Voigt and Renee Pape among the cast was quite extraordinary!