Festival Info

Martinů Festtage

"...one of the smallest and finest of its kind."

The established MARTINŮ FESTTAGE in the cultural scene take place in Basel every year in autumn, honoring the significant Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů who passed away in Liestal in 1959. Through Swiss and internationally outstanding artists, since 1995 they have been presenting Bohuslav Martinů's extensive oeuvre with diverse and varied programs, ranging from classical music to film, contemporary dance, family concerts, jazz, and pop.

Renowned personalities such as Julia Fischer, Gidon Kremer, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Steven Isserlis, Hélène Grimaud, Alison Balsom, Gautier Capuçon, as well as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Neeme Järvi, Gennadi Rozhdestvenski, Hagen Quartet, the WDR Radio Choir, and the London Symphony Orchestra - just to name a few - are part of the festival. Not to forget jazz greats like Marc Turner and Enrico Pieranunzi, as well as legendary directors Ken Russell and Bertrand Blier. (More information under Festival Info and Artist Directory)

The programs of the Martinů Festival Days are characterized above all by careful dramaturgy, which enhances the concerts, partly in special venues and occasions, into an unparalleled experience.

Special occasions with strong socio-political statements include the first public concert in the grand synagogue of Basel featuring Martinů's cantata "The Prophecy of Isaiah," sung in Hebrew by the WDR Radio Choir. This concert was praised by the press as the "Concert of the Year." Another highlight was the 2022 opening concert at the vibrant Paulus Cultural Church, featuring a soprano, large double choir with the Zurich Singakademie and the Ukrainian Radio Choir, a substantial percussion ensemble, and an organ, which resulted in standing ovations from the entire audience. "Thanks to persistent work and visionary program design (...) the Martinů Festival Days have become the most tradition-rich classical festival in Basel and are now an integral part of the music city," wrote the Basler Zeitung.

Other highlights in recent years undoubtedly include the opera production by director and Oscar winner Jiří Menzel at the Tinguely Museum, as well as the dance choreography by the Bubeniček brothers Otto and Jiří at the Elisabethenkirche with Martinů's Bureš cantatas.

Last but not least, the support from high-ranking political and cultural figures is of great importance: For many years, in addition to several federal councilors, former Czech President Václav Havel assumed patronage, followed by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Currently, human rights activist and current Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová, one of the most important conductors of our time Jakub Hruša, and Federal Councilor Alain Berset have taken up the patronage to emphasize the significance of Bohuslav Martinů's music for the international music scene and his Basel festival.