The city of Lucerne, Switzerland has hosted an international music festival since 1938. Nestled on the banks of Lake Lucerne, this picturesque Alpine town was founded in the 12th Century and still retains much of its Old World charm. The San Francisco Symphony performed 2 concerts in the KKL main concert hall as part of the 2015 Lucerne Festival on September 9 and 11.
In addition to the main orchestral concerts, there was a series devoted to the theme of “Humor in Music” which included daily 40-minute concerts in the smaller hall in the KKL complex, Luzerner Salle. On the free day in between our symphony concerts, I joined SF Symphony colleagues Jerome Simas and Robin Sutherland to perform Beethoven’s Trio, Op. 11 for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, followed by a performance with the Sunrise String Quartet of 2 movements from Haydn’s String Quartet nicknamed “The Joke.” We spoke to the enthusiastic multi-cultural audience about how both Beethoven and Haydn used elements of humor in their works, including demonstrations from “The Joke” of glissando effects that make the violinist sound somewhat inebriated. At the end of the quartet Haydn tries to trick the audience into applauding before the piece is over, and the crowd at this performance clearly enjoyed being part of the Joke!