For once people have easily access to the magic world of Montreux Jazz Festival and what’s behind it and around it by visiting the exhibition “Montreux. Jazz since 1967” at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich.
Founded in 1967, Montreux Jazz Festival started as a tiny jazz festival to later become one of the most renowned festivals in the world. This was made possible by its visionary co-founder Claude Nobs that with his contagious energy made each and every artist welcome at the festival.
The first room of the exhibition tells the origins of Montreux Jazz Festival and its importance to relaunch Montreux as a touristic destination. It also features other important events linked to the festival like Woodstock and the fire at the Montreux Casino in 1971 which inspired Deep Purple’s iconic “Smoke on the water”.
The exhibition unfolds in the next room with a video footage of a selection of artists who played Montreux Jazz in the past, such as Van Morrison, Etta James, Deep Purple and ZZ Top. Two rows of airline seats suggest the voyage into the special and enchanting world of Montreux Jazz the viewer is about to take.
Behind the screen, another video footage is projected, this time giving an insight into what happens backstage, showing the founder Claude Nobs meeting the artists and joining them on stage.
The last part of the exhibition takes the viewer in Claude Nobs’s chalets in Caux, a hub for the backstage of the festival, with a stunning view on Lake Geneva as the huge screens surrounding the room show. This is the room containing Claude Nobs’s memorabilia and personal collections, each related to particular anecdotes.
Claude Nobs, who died in 2013 following a ski accident, was a collector of different objects music related, like Freddy Mercury’s kimono, and not, such as small trains. This part also features a beautiful photo installation borrowed from the Festival Images Vevey which reconstructs the interior of Claude Nobs’s chalet.
In another part of the room, the drawers taken from his desk are displayed just as Claude Nobs left them five years ago, frozen in time. The objects include backstage passes, letters from artists he welcomed in his chalet and various pictures with them, electronic devices and so on. This part shows the great impact Claude Nobs’s personality had for the festival’s success, through his presence and his welcoming attitude with the artists.
“Montreux. Jazz since 1967” is open to the public at the National Museum in Zurich from January 19th, 2018, until May 21st, 2018. An exhibition not to miss!