Just in: Verbier Festival suffers 10 percent drop

Just in: Verbier Festival suffers 10 percent drop


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2015

With all the stubs now counted, the Verbier Festival reckons that it sold 30,000 tickets, 3,000 down on last year.

Worse, almost two-fifth of the tickets were sold during the festival itself, which is a bit last-minute for sound financial planning.

Festival organisers blame the strong Swiss franc for the downturn.

musicians in mountains

Online, the Valery Gergiev concert beat previous viewing records with 34,000 hits.


  • alepia says:

    last year, if I remember well, it was also a festival with a poor attendance figures, due mainly to a very bad weather conditions….what’s happen this year?

  • Dave T says:

    The 10% drop in attendance corresponds with an almost 15% rise of the franc against the euro. I would have expected the relationship to be a little more inelastic, i.e. less price sensitive. Perhaps classical music lovers, or at least festival attendees, are a little less devoted and committed than some of us would want to believe.

    • MWnyc says:

      Well, they may be less devoted to this particular festival.

      It’s not as if there are no summer festivals outside Switzerland and within the Eurozone to choose as alternatives.

      It’ll be worrisome for Verbier, I suppose, if the Lucerne Festival doesn’t show a similar drop in attendance.

  • Martin says:

    The strong Swiss franc is indeed an issue. I am a Swiss living in the UK. The tips to my homeland became much less financially reasonable – but I still go, I can’t resist. However, I sorted out my budget by cutting a trip to a French opera festival from my travel schedule.

  • Horace says:

    To put the blame on a strong Swiss Franc is not accepting the reality and ignoring the serious issues around the Verbier Festival. I have attended in the past and attended two concerts this year, but I really have had enough of its pretentious atmosphere and most disturbingly, to see year after year the same artists, the same VIPs and the same attitude towards everything. To have a festival personality is fine, but to cultivate a sort of exclusive club of insiders is wrong and against the principle of an international festival. I also question some of the artists that perform at the festival year after year. Many, are not on the same level as their colleagues but seem to be there just because they are connected to this or that person. The Verbier Festival, at least for me, has become an incestuous organisation and I hear that position repeated by both attendees and several artists, who have performed there in the past, but won’t return there anymore.
    Martin Engstroem should wake up fast, as with these sorts of falling attendance numbers, he soon will see the sponsorship disappearing. Clear the slate and construct a festival with a new vibe, new blood and stop bringing back the same people year after year. If you continue like that, you will soon only be performing for yourselves.

    • PDQ.BACH says:

      Spot on, Horace!
      Your diagnosis of what ails Verbier is not only clinically sharp: it may be the early stage of a post mortem.

  • Holger H. says:

    “sold 30.000 tickets” Unlikely they sold that round number. So in reality, subtracting all the free and courtesy tickets, the numbers are probably even worse.

    As for pretentiousness: Every festival has the audience it deserves. And vice versa.
    Let’s talk about the crisis of artistry, trailing in the crisis of integrity and ethics worldwide in general, where CEOs of corporations today make 400 times the money of the average employee, while 40 years ago the CEOs used to make only 20 times more…

    Artistry becomes more and more like prostitution. Only the fees have gone up int he last 40 years, according to the disposable incomes of the upper 1%, who enjoy champagne in the mountains, illustrated by some classical music in the mental background.