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Montreux Casino

The "Golden Rose" or the "Super Pop Montreux" concerts were performed in the Casino or the Pavillon. The same for the Montreux Jazz Festival who started in the Casino and the Pavillon and later in the convention center (Maison des congrès). And more recently in the Auditorium Stravinski hall and in the Miles Davis Hall.

The Montreux Casino was built November 26th, 1881. Originally it was called "Kursaal" and Montreux, well known for its micro climate, attracted more and more tourists from all over the places for curing their health problems.

In order to provide proper accommodation to all these numberous people, many board & lodging and hotels were built in town and in the surroundings. There were, at one time, over 140 hotels ! Some of them welcomed Tolstoï or Sarah Bernhardt.

All "Kursaal" premises in Switzerland would have financial difficulties as the classical concerts they produced were quite expensive. The Swiss government had not much of an alternative to authorize those places to arrange gambling in order to improve their finances. Very soon the profit, made by the Montreux Casino, allows them to originate the "Kursaal" orchestra and Ernest Ansermet, who conducted it, would draw Stravinski to Montreux who in turn invited Ravel who brings the Russian ballets or Gabrielle Chanel.

The Casino was sold to the Montreux Tourist Office in 1943 and the orchestra has completely vanished. Eventhough, regularly, the Casino entertained it’s clients with classical music concerts. A beautiful Belle Epoque hall with nice red cosy arm-chairs would offer a quite reputable acoustic quality for this period.

The ‘60s brought disco and yé-yé music with it’s load of younger generation public. The whole front lake side was turned into a disco called "Le Sablier" (Sand-glass). A very large sand-glass, trademark of this place, decorated the entrance and folks from all over Switzerland would come to discover this new place. It was a very cosy place.

So, very naturally, in 1967, the new Montreux musical event, called "International Jazz Festival", started performing in "Le Sablier" who was converted into a concert hall for the 3 days of this first edition.

The 1971 fire

The following years, the Festival grew bigger and became a major annual event. No changes in the Casino building until December 1971 when a spectacular fire destroys the whole building during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention gig.

In 1973, two years after the fire, the reconstruction of the new Casino can start. The new building will be achieved 3 years later. After 4 years of prestigious concerts at the Convention Center (Maison des Congrès) the Jazz Festival returns to the Casino from July 3rd to 20th 1975 and inaugurates the brand new concert hall.

The famous Mountain Studios settles down, this same year, in the north-east side of the building and David Richards, producer and sound engineer takes the management of the place from 1977.

The new casino is a strange modern architectural structure which has nothing in common with the older one. Shops on the ground floor and escalators lead people on the first floor where a reception desk guides visitors to the gambling hall on the right side on the same level. To discover the "Montreusien" bar or the "Jazz Bar" the clients had to go down one floor and one more floor to get to the concert hall.

On April 6, 1979, the Montreux Casino was revamped by opening "The Platinum" a unique American-style nightclub offering 300 seats, 2 bars, and many special effects. The director, Mr. Bischofberger mentioned that "this disco was the most sophisticated in all Europe".

The Montreux Jazz Festival organized many intimate concerts there during the Festival from 1991 to 1993 to the delight of music fans who often discovered most surprising bands and music in a small place.

From 1993, the Festival moves again to the Convention Center in the newly built "Auditorium Stravinski" hall and "Miles Davis Hall". Sadly, the "Platinum" closed its doors in 1994.

The french group Lucien Barrière bought the place in 2001 and made important renovations outside and inside the building in order to welcome a large gambling section, restaurants, conference rooms and concert halls. They got rid of the Mountain Studios and opened officialy in February 2002.

Every music fan should visit the "Queen Studio Experience". They will find there a large collection of items that belonged to Freddie Mercury or the rock band Queen. Admission is free.

There is also a possibility to write your name or an anecdote on the "Queen Tribute Wall" which leads to the original door of the entrance of the Mountain Studios.

Website : www.casinosbarriere.com

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