The current European Capitals of Culture for 2022 are Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Novi Sad (Serbia).
After Luxembourg city in 1995 and 2007, it is now the turn of Esch-sur-Alzette, the second largest city in the country, to be crowned a European Capital of Culture in 2022. Esch’s slogan as a 2022 European Capital of Culture will be ‘REMIX Culture’ with the following four focus areas: REMIX Europe, REMIX Art, REMIX Nature, and REMIX Yourself. Esch2022 wants to celebrate the history of a cross-border region located in the heart of Europe. It will tell the story of its evolution from the industrial age based on the steel industry until today's knowledge society and its future potential in the era of digital revolution.
Kaunas is the second city in Lithuania to hold the European Capital of Culture title after Vilnius in 2009. Its slogan – ‘From temporary to Contemporary Capital’ – illustrates the city’s ambition. During the interwar period, Kaunas was Lithuania's capital city. It has now come back under the spotlight as an innovative, culturally vibrant European city.
Novi Sad is Serbia's first European Capital of Culture. The yearlong cultural programme - under the ‘For New Bridges’ motto – aims to further connect the city’s and region’s cultural community and inhabitants with the European Union (EU) and reinforce their links with the rest of the Western Balkans area. Novi Sad's cultural programme is divided into four 'bridges' that the city wishes to share with citizens of Europe under the values of freedom, rainbow, hope, and love.
"The European Capital of Culture initiative illustrates the importance of culture in promoting the values on which our European Union is built: diversity,
solidarity, respect, tolerance and openness”, commented European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.
In 1985, the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, initiated the European Capital of Culture initiative. It has since become one of the most
high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe.
Cities are selected based on a cultural programme that must have a strong European dimension, including
promoting participation and active involvement by city inhabitants, communities and stakeholders,
contributing to the long-term development of the city and its surrounding region.
Holding the title of European Capital of Culture offers cities the chance to put themselves on the world map, promote sustainable tourism and rethink their
development through culture.
The title has a long-term impact, not only for culture, but also in social and economic terms - both for the city and the surrounding region.
Each year, two to three cities hold the title of European Capital of Culture. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no European Capitals of Culture in 2021. Future European Capitals of Culture: Veszprém (Hungary), Elefsina (Greece) and Timisoara (Romania) in 2023; Tartu (Estonia), Bad Ischl (Austria) and Bodø (Norway) in 2024; Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia) in 2025; Oulu (Finland) and Trenčín (Slovakia) in 2026.
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.
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.
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 militaries grand-ducale was found in Echternach with some 24 musicians from the battalion stationed there. 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". 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).
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 Band.
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. 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 with the rise of folk, classical, popular music (pop, rock, hip hop) and electronic dance music (hardstyle, jumpstyle, hardstyle).
The national anthem is "Ons Heemecht" ("Our Homeland"), which was composed and written by Jean-Antoine Zinnen and Michel Lentz. It has been the national anthem since 1895.
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.
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.
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.
The Luxembourg-based ensemble The Art of Music was founded in 1993. With approximately seven members, it specialises in singing Renaissance religious music, with some medieval repertoire as well. As of 2018, it had published 11 CDs, recorded by Josy Peschon, and since May 2018 it has also featured on Spotify.
Jazz is in Luxembourg with artists such as trumpeters Ernie Hammes and Gast Waltzing, pianist Michel Reis and percussionist Pascal Schumacher. Waltzing has gained a name as a composer of film and TV music while Schumacher has performed worldwide with his Pascal Schumacher Quartet.
Serge Tonnar & Legotrip sing 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, and participated every year between 1956 and 1993, with the exception of 1959. It won the competition a total of five times, 1961, 1965, 1972, 1973 and 1983 and hosted the contest in 1962, 1966, 1973, and 1984. 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 the French artist France Gall. Only eight of its 38 entries were performed by Luxembourgish artists. Three of the entries were performed in Luxembourgish: "So laang we's du do bast" by Camillo Felgen in 1960, "Sou fräi" by Marion Welter and Kontinent in 1992, and "Donne-moi une chance" by Modern Times in 1993 .
There is a small but active metal music scene, with a handful of bands known to have played various European Metal festivals. Notable is the band Pronoian Made, the first to play gothic influenced metal in the country.
Though formed in London and being labeled a British band, Placebo have close ties to Luxembourg, as two members went to school there.
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Date: February 2022.
Photo Credits: (1ff) Logos, (7) Dream Catcher, (8) Schëppe Siwen (unknown/website).