CULTURE: GENERAL INFORMATION
It was the year 1291 when a few tiny mountain regions, which were soon joined by others up to the current 26, decided to consolidate to hinder the expansionism of the Habsburgs: Switzerland was born, which today unites under the red Crusader flag (the only square shape of the whole planet) and the sky “pierced” by the alpine peaks, the whole made up of the history, religions, languages, culture of every single fragmentary nature of the time. Here, where the UNESCO has elected Bern and the Aletsch Glacier World Heritage Sites, where the official languages are four but 65% of the population still speak a set of Germanic dialects (Schwyzerdeutsch), where there is a great openness to all new trends of culture but at the same time the legacy of the past is preserved, the mix between tradition and modernity is amazing. Visit insidewatch.net for Switzerland destinations.
At the forefront from a technological point of view, Switzerland has given its birthplace in all ages to artists, politicians and even scientists capable of revolutionizing their field of investigation. Just think of Paracelsus, the pedagogue Jean Piaget or to neurobiologist Martin Schwab, who continuing the long Swiss tradition of innovation in research on the brain and nervous system, at the end of the century. XX made important discoveries on the regeneration of brain cells. The cultural offer of play is also of great depth in Switzerland, as demonstrated by the many festivals that take place there. In magnificent halls or outdoors, musical, cinematographic, theatrical or dance, a meeting point for artists from all over the world, the number and variety of events is remarkable and “betrays” the long tradition that the Swiss have on the subject of cultural reviews. Just remember for all the Lucerne International Music Weeks, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Yehudi Menuhin Music Festival in and around Gstaad, the Locarno Film Festival, the Days of Dance in Bern, Street Parade in Zurich or the performances of the opera held outdoors in the Roman arena in Avenches. Finally, it should be remembered that Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest density of museums by territorial extension: there are about a thousand of them, visited annually by more or less 10 million people. These are both art museums with a long tradition and renowned reputation, and small local history museums; but above all of prestigious private collections, such as the Beyeler Foundation in Basel and the Paul Klee Zentrum in Bern (admirable work of the Italian architect Renzo Piano), marvelous examples of “art for art”, as they are also characterized by architecture innovative space.
The antecedents can be found in remote popular traditions of which traces remain in processions and other festivals of the Valais, the Canton of Bern and the Grisons and in the theatrical flourishing of the Roman era, documented by the ruins of theaters and amphitheaters, among which that of Basel is important. These are the two lines on which the theater in Switzerland develops, and the first, that of the popular spectacle, is certainly the most relevant. It manifests itself in the medieval religious theater (the oldest examples of liturgical drama have been found in the Benedictine abbey of St. Gallen, including the first version of the famous trope Quem quaeritis?): Muri ‘s Osterspiel and the Weihnachtspiel of Gallo (13th century) are the first sacred representations in German, but equally important are the Passion of Lucerne and the cycle of the Epiphany of Friborg which date back to the 16th century. The Fastnachtspiele also belong to the same century, similar to the German ones, the first Tellspiele which evoke the exploits of the Swiss national hero, as well as some humanistic theater experiments linked to the school and truncated by the triumph of Calvin’s preaching. Laws were passed in Geneva and Zurich prohibiting all forms of entertainment, but elsewhere the situation was less negative, especially in the Catholic Cantons where Jesuit theater flourished and not only religious texts but also patriotic epics were represented. From the end of the century. XVI began to flock foreign companies on tour that found hospitality in makeshift venues before permanent theaters were built (in Baden in 1673, in Lucerne in 1741 etc.), while the popular tradition was set aside until the eighteenth century, when Rousseau in Geneva and Sulzer in Zurich exalted its values and there was a rebirth of the Tellspiele and other similar genera. This trend continued also in the following centuries with performances of William Tell by F. Schiller a little everywhere and with performances of a historical or religious nature, which are still repeated at irregular intervals in various locations. But the nineteenth century also saw the birth of municipal theaters in Bern, Zurich and Basel and of halls destined to host comedies, operas and operettas also in the major centers of French-speaking Switzerland. These theaters, and especially the Schauspielhaus in Zurich, acquired particular importance in the Nazi period, when they hosted actors who had fled from Germany and texts by German writers that could not be represented at home. In recent decades, the municipal halls have been joined by significant alternative groups such as the Atelier in Bern, the Komödie in Basel, the Theater am Neumarkt in Zurich, the Théâtre des Faux Nez in Lausanne, the Théâtre du Carouge in Geneva,