Music of Luxembourg
The Music of Luxembourg is an important component of the country's cultural life. The prestigious new Philharmonie concert hall provides an excellent venue for orchestral concerts while opera is frequently presented in the theatres. Rock, pop and jazz are also popular with a number of successful performers. The wide general interest in music and musical activities in Luxembourg can be seen from the membership of the Union Grand-Duc Adolphe, the national music federation for choral societies, brass bands, music schools, theatrical societies, folklore associations and instrumental groups. Some 340 music groups and associations with over 17,000 individual members are currently represented by the organization.1
Music in what is now the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has a history stretching back to the Gallo-Roman period. The 3rd-century Roman mosaic from Vichten presents excellent representations of the muses Euterpe with her flutes and Erato playing the lyre, testifying to an early interest in music. The 6th-century Latin poet Venantius Fortunatus tells us he was impressed by the music he heard in the region. From the 8th century, the Abbey of Echternach became an important centre for church music. Around the year 900, the abbey produced the Officium Sancti Willibrordi manuscript, one of the first examples of musical notation from Luxembourg.2
After the Grand Duchy was established in 1815, interest in music slowly developed across the country, initially with patriotic music played by military bands. In 1842, the Luxembourg Army Band known as the Musique militaire grand-ducale was founded in Echternach with some 25 musicians from the battalion stationed there.3 In 1852, the Société philharmonique was founded in Ettelbrück by the local priest J. B. Victor Müllendorf with the objective of "supporting all types of vocal and instrumental music".4 On the occasion of the first train from Luxembourg to Thionville on 4 October 1859, the national poet Michel Lentz wrote the words and music for De Feierwon, a patriotic song with the famous line Mir welle bleiwe wat mir sin (We want to remain as we are).2
In the middle of the 19th century, music and singing societies became increasingly popular. A series of local composers wrote vocal music and light pieces to be performed by the brass bands and choirs which were also emerging everywhere. They included Joseph-Alexandre Müller, Louis Beicht and Emile Boeres as well as Gustave Kahnt and Pol Albrecht who, apart from being prolific composers, were bandmasters for the Luxembourg Army Band.5
Luxembourg's music and cultural heritage is Germanic. The national music federation is the Union Grand-Duc Adolphe (UGDA); another important institution is the Luxembourg Conservatory of Music with some 2,600 students each year.6 Annual music festivals include the Echternach Music Festival and the Rock um Knuedler in Luxembourg City. The national radio station, Radio Luxembourg, is listened to throughout Europe. Modern Luxembourg is home to an array of performers, folk, classical and pop, as well as rock, hip hop and other genres like hardstyle, jumpstyle and hardcore.
One of the most influential and versatile musicians in Luxembourg was Laurent Menager (1835–1902). Often referred to as Luxembourg's national composer, he was also an enthusiastic choirmaster, organist and teacher. In 1857, he founded the national choral association Sang a Klang. His many compositions include choral works, church music, orchestral pieces and operettas as well as music for brass bands and the theatre.7
The Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, originally known as the RTL Grand Symphony Orchestra, was founded in 1933. Since 2005, when the Philharmonie Luxembourg concert hall was opened, the orchestra has had its own home. Recent directors have done much to enhance its image, particularly in regard to 20th-century French music. Opera is frequently performed in Luxembourg City at the Grand Théâtre and in Esch-sur-Alzette at the Théâtre d’Esch as well as at the annual Wiltz festival.8
Luxembourg's internationally recognized soloists include violinist Sandrine Cantoreggi, cellist Françoise Groben, pianists Francesco Tristano Schlimé and Jean Muller, and singer Mariette Kemmer. Among its contemporary composers are Camille Kerger, Claude Lenners, Georges Lentz (although he lives mainly in Australia), Alexander Mullenbach and Marcel Wengler. Since 1999, the Luxembourg Sinfonietta orchestra has done much to promote contemporary music, not only by performing Luxembourg works at home and abroad but by organizing annual international competitions for contemporary composers.89
Jazz is thriving in Luxembourg with artists such as trumpeters Ernie Hammes and Gast Waltzing, pianist Michel Reis and percussionist Pascal Schumacher.10 Waltzing has gained a name as a composer of film and TV music while Schumacher has performed worldwide with his Pascal Schumacher Quartet.1112
Serge Tonnar and the Legotrip sings in Luxembourgish mainly about small and bigger idiosyncrasies of Luxembourg life and politics. Some albums: Klasseklon, Legotrip, Pärele bei d'sei, and a single: "Wat der Noper seet".
Kate, a five-member indy-folk-pop group (started in 2008, first album in 2010, titled Can't keep Secrets), brought out its second album Life in Stereo in 2012 with a new pianist, Tom.
Luxembourg was a founding participant of the Eurovision Song Contest, having won the competition on several occasions, the last one in 1983. Luxembourg hosted the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest. The Grand Duchy's last entry was in 1993. Luxembourg's most famous entry is perhaps Poupée de cire, poupée de son, penned by French composer Serge Gainsbourg and performed by France Gall.
- "Union Grand-Duc Adolphe", Luxemburger Lexikon, Editions Guy Binsfeld, Luxembourg, 2006. (German)
- "Classical Music in Luxembourg", Information and Press Service of the Luxembourg Government. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Historique de la musique militaire grand-ducale", Rotaryweb.lu. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Philharmonie grand-ducale et municipale de la Ville d'Ettelbruck". (French) Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Die luxemburgische Musik", Luxemburger Lexikon, Editions Guy Binsfeld, Luxembourg, 2006, pp 310–311. (German)
- "Historique", Conservatoire de Musique de la Ville de Luxembourg. (French) Retrieved 25 December 2010.
- "Menager, Laurent / Lorenz", Luxemburger Lexikon, Editions Guy Bindsfeld, Luxembourg, 2006. (German)
- "Art and Culture in Luxembourg", Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- "Programme Great Hall Jihlava: Thursday, 27 May 2010", Gustav Mahler Festival, Jihlava, Czech Republic. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
- "Arts et culture au Luxembourg: La musique". (French) Retrieved 2 January 2011.
- Maggie Parke, "Gast Waltzing", Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- "Pascal Schumacher Quartet: Here We Gong (Touring 2010-2011)", Monday Night Productions. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- Brody, Elaine (1977). The Music Guide to Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, and Switzerland. Dodd, Mead. ISBN 0-396-07437-5.