The organization of the Festival is already working on the programming of its next edition. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Juanjo Mena will be in the 78 Musical Fortnight.It will be the first time that this orchestra acts in the framework of the Fortnight. The closing of the Festival will be in charge of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, so that the presence of American music will be guaranteed in the program of the next edition.The young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang will offer a recital at the Victoria Eugenia Theatre. As for the appointment with opera, the Festival management is confident of re-scheduling staged opera in the Kursaal Auditorium.
It began in 1939 as fruits of the entrepreneurship and zest of the city innkeepers and merchants —in the same way that the International Film Festival was to be launched some years later— willing to enrich the tourism offer over the summer season. To this end they took the baton of the ancient musical tradition already existing in the city from the end of the 19th century and early in the 20th: the foundation of the Orfeón Donostiarra, the Grand Casino orchestras, the great European artists who sought refuge against the Second World War in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre…
Since its inception, Musical Fortnight has enjoyed great prestige both for the quality of its programs and for the renown of their performers. Among them symphonic orchestras such as those from Berlin, London, Cleveland, Scala Milan, St. Petersburg, Bavarian Radio, Czech Philharmonic, National of France, National of Spain or the Basque National Orchestra; conductors such as Argenta, Sir Colin Davis, Münch, Neumann, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Muti, Mehta or Maazel; Ballet companies such as the New York City Ballet, the Tokyo Ballet, the London Festival Ballet, the Béjart Ballet of Lausanne, the Scala of Milan or the Marques de Cuevas; Vocal soloists such as Plácido Domingo, Alfredo Kraus, Luciano Pavarotti, Beniamino Gigli, Jessye Norman, Montserrat Caballé, Teresa Berganza or Mirella Freni; Instrumental soloists such as Nicanor Zabaleta, Arthur Rubinstein, Henryk Szeryng, Alicia de Larrocha, Maria Joào Pires, Mstislav Rostropovich or Christian Zacharias; and stage directors such as Pier Luigi Pizzi, Giancarlo de Monaco, Emilio Sagi, Nicolas Joel, Lindsay Kemp and David Ritch. The presence of these great names is complemented by the desire to promote young interpreters and new talents.
The first edition of the Musical Fortnight took place in the now-defunct Gran Kursaal Theatre, but in 1940 it was already held at the Victoria Eugenia Theatre which would be its official venue until 1999, when the Festival returned to the re-inaugurated Kursaal Auditorium. Since the 2007 edition, when the restoration works of the Victoria Eugenia Theatre were completed, both have become the official venues of the Musical Fortnight.
That first magnificent stage lasted up to the end of the `60s, when political upheavals and new tourism customs gave rise to difficult times for the Musical Fortnight. In 1979 the City Council took the reins of the Festival and began its recuperation that was definitely consolidated with the incorporation, in 1991, of the Managing Society shared by Donostia-San Sebastián City Council, the Provincial Council and the Basque Government. Nowadays the Festival counts on the support of wholehearted audiences that pack its halls. To that effect some 2,000 Friends of the Fortnight are undoubtedly one of the mainstays of this initiative.