Founded in 1990, the Bard Music Festival has established its unique identity in the classical concert field by presenting programs that, through performance and discussion, place selected works in the cultural and social context of the composer’s world.
Programs of the Bard Music Festival offer a point of view. The intimate communication of recital and chamber music and the excitement of full orchestral and choral works are complemented by informative preconcert talks, panel discussions by renowned musicians and scholars, and special events. In addition, each season Princeton University Press publishes a book of essays, translations, and correspondence relating to the festival’s central figure.
By providing an illuminating context, the festival encourages listeners and musicians alike to rediscover the powerful, expressive nature of familiar compositions and to become acquainted with less well-known works.
Since its inaugural season, the Bard Music Festival has entered the worlds of Brahms, Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Dvořák, Schumann, Bartók, Ives, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Beethoven, Debussy, Mahler, Janáček, Shostakovich, Copland, Liszt, Elgar, Prokofiev, Wagner, Berg, Sibelius, Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky, Schubert, Carlos Chávez, Puccini, Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Korngold, and Nadia Boulanger.
The 2022 Bard Music Festival will be devoted to the life and work of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The Bard Music Festival promotes new ways of understanding and presenting the history of music to a contemporary audience. Each year, a single composer is chosen as the main subject. The biography of the composer, the influences and consequences of that composer’s achievement, and all aspects of the musical culture surrounding the time and place of the composer’s life are explored. Perhaps the most important dimensions of the festival are the ways in which it links music to the worlds of literature, painting, theater, philosophy, and politics and brings two kinds of audience together: those with a long history of interest in concert life and first-time listeners, who find the festival an ideal place to learn about and enjoy the riches of our musical past.