REPORT/PHOTOS: Montreux Jazz Festival at 50. Interactive website, video archive launched on late founder's 80th Birthday

The 2016 50th Festival desigb by Giovanni Riva
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Ralf Dombrowski was invited to a gathering at Claude Nobs' chalet in Switzerland. Here is his report (*)

Montreux Jazz Festival 2016 - marking half a century

It's a proud age, 50. In the summer of 1967, Claude Nobs, a trained chef and a hugely enthusiastic music fan brought a festival in his home town of Montreux into being. The spa town on the northern shore of Lake Geneva had once enjoyed a glittering and glamorous reputation, but it was losing both its lustre and its way. The festival, and Claude Nobs' magic touch were to bring back both.

Bronze of Claude Nobs at the Chalet
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Claude Nobs would have been 80 years old on 4th February this year. A visionary, he built the festival not just into perhaps the most significant musical nexus in Europe, he also ensured that it became one of the best documented concert series in history.

There is definitely something to celebrate this summer. While the management of the festival could not be more tight-lipped about the line-up for this year (it will be announced on April 14th), they did have announcements to make when they invited a group of jazz media to an "At Home" at Chalet Nobs overlooking Lake Geneva. In the first place they presented the brand identity, a logo design by the local Vaudois artist Giovanni Riva in the form of an illuminated sculpture to go alongside those of the previous 49 festivals.

The video archive at Chalet Nobs
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

They also had two far more exciting things to announce at this gathering:

- The festival's tech team has been extremely hard at work, and they unveiled an interactive appetizer of the resources at There are easily navigable pictorial menus to lead the user round the entry points to an image archive collected over 49 years.

- Under the rubric Montreux Jazz Live a digital platfom has been opened up, in which around 800 video recordings of live concerts are available, everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Motörhead is available free of charge.

- A jubilee book was launched, on which 50 artists from all over the world have given theie impressions of the festival.

There is much to discover much to browse and to find one's way around. It is the kind of thing which is necessary to attract large audiences to a country as expensive as Switzerland.

(*) The original German version of this piece is at

This year's 50th Festival runs from July 1st- 16th 

LINKS: Montreux Jazz Festival website

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