Festivals: The Happy Plague

Europe in the summer is one big festival of music festivals. Nourished by the tourist trade, the phenomenon has spread across the Continent like a happy plague. After World War II, Europe could boast only half a dozen festivals; today there are some 200. Half ritual and half romp, they are held in medieval barns and torchlighted courtyards, up on cliffs overlooking the sea, down in leafy glens, in castles and cathedrals, on a floating stage and in the cloisters of a convent. Programs range from intimate chamber-music sessions over brandy to...

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