From Yodeling to Raclette Parties

It has often been said that there is really no such thing as Swiss music per se, just music in Switzerland performed by Swiss musicians. There is some validity to this view. Except for its alpine melodies and dance music, Switzerland has made only a modest contribution to the world's repertoire.

Yet, Switzerland has several excellent orchestras and opera companies. The Zurich Opera specializes in German-language productions, and the Grand Théatre de Genéve, the country's leading opera house, has a predominantly French-language repertoire. The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is the country's best-known orchestra, and the respected Tonhalle Orchester of Zurich has a loyal following.

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Local cultural entertainment is highlighted by the folk music and dancing of the alpine regions, which you can also see and hear in the big cities. These includeKuhreigen (round dances), yodeling performances, and a style of dance tunes known as Ländler, performed by small orchestras, whose members usually appear in regional costumes.

Switzerland's cities offer a variety of evening entertainment. In Zurich, the traditional stomping grounds for night owls lie around the Niederdorf, a neighborhood within Old Town known for its strip joints, bars, and music halls. There's even a red-light district. Geneva, too, despite its Calvinist traditions, has a sophisticated nightlife.

It might be more interesting, especially if you're a first-time visitor, to patronize some of the local folkloric places, where you can see and hear yodeling and dancing to alpine music.

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Theater presentations tend to be in German or French, so unless you speak either language, these shows may not be for you.

Throughout the winter, the après-ski life in Switzerland's high-altitude resorts might best be described as vigorous, with raclette parties, beer drinking in rustic taverns, sleigh rides, and lots of music, much of it brought in by live groups from Great Britain, France, and Germany or from the United States.

In summer, the Swiss prefer to drink outside, under the summer sky, perhaps in some beer garden, rather than being cooped up inside a deliberately darkened disco.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.