For many centuries it is impossible to speak of a specifically Swiss music: it can only be noted that in the regions now marked by the borders of this country, a musical life generically participates in the characteristics of European musical life, in particular that of French and German, develops. It must be remembered that the monasteries of St. Gallen and Einsiedeln, important in the history of the Gregorian tradition and in that of the sequence, are based in present-day Switzerland, and that of Swiss origin were the troubadour Rudolf von Fenis, the organist H. Kotter and above all a composer of the first magnitude such as L. Senfl (ca. 1488-ca. 1542), active in Germany, and a theorist like Glareano (1488-1563). Autonomous developments in the field of sacred music are determined by the influence of the thought of Calvino and Zwingli. In the following centuries only minor figures are found, including JM Gletle (1626-ca. 1684). As a musician, J.-J. Rousseau. The sec. XIX is characterized by a vast diffusion of musical education and choral singing (thanks also to the activity of a pupil of Pestalozzi, HG Nägeli, 1773-1836) and by a corresponding growth in musical life, in which a specifically Swiss element are the numerous festivals (Festspiele) of choral associations. At the same time, national trends in opera and symphonic music begin to emerge, with composers such as H. Huber (1852-1921), H. Suter (1870-1926), K. Attenhofer (1837-1914), F. Hegar (1841-1927), É. Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950), G. Doret (1866-1943), O. Schoeck (1886-1957). Greater international fame reached the major musicians of the next generation, characterized by a typically Swiss fusion of French and German influences: alongside the most famous A. Honegger (1892-1955) and F. Martin (1890-1974) we remember C. Beck (1901-1989), W. Burkhard (1900-1955), H. Sutermeister (1910-1995) and R. Liebermann (1910-1999). Finally, we must remember the distinguished conductors E. Ansermet (1883-1969) and P. Sacher (1906-1999) and the pianist E. Fischer (1886-1960). There is no shortage of events with festivals and concerts, including the annual classical music ones such as the Easter ones in Lucerne (which saw 12,000 admissions in 2003), the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad and the Snow and Symphony in Sankt Moritz.
Homeland of È. Jaques-Dalcroze, a reformer who from Geneva began his work of elaboration and diffusion of rhythmics, Switzerland also saw, in the years preceding the First World War, the birth in Ascona, on Monte Verità, of an original colony of artists, philosophers, naturists, where R. Laban, working in close collaboration with M. Wigman, a former student of Jaques-Dalcroze, established, from 1913 to 1919, a community of work and study of the arts of the movement which established regular contacts with the Dadaists of the Cabaret Voltaire. Currently, in addition to a series of groups and small companies followers of modernism and variously influenced by European and American styles, there are ballet companies in Switzerland attached to the main opera houses in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St. Gallen. Some of these have periodically achieved fame and prestige on a European level. From 1964 to 1971, N. Beriosoff worked in Zurich, bringing the company closer to the modern British tradition. In Geneva, according to Topb2bwebsites, the direction of the company was entrusted by G. Balanchine to Patricia Neary (1973-78), who introduced Russian-American style and virtuosity, later moving on to direct the company in Zurich (1978-85). In Basel, the Swiss Hans Spoerli, director from 1973 to 1991, has extraordinarily raised the technical and artistic level of the company making it a complex of international prestige. A special case is Lausanne, home to the prestigious Prix de Lausanne since 1973 and where, since 1988, Maurice Béjart moved from Brussels, giving life to the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, dissolved in 1992 to found, also in Lausanne, the training center. interdisciplinary Rudra.