Historical Setting

altdorf switzerland borromeo music festival landscape
Altdorf
Chapel
College Door

The College

The Kollegium Karl Borromäus (Carl Borromeo School), which hosts the Borromeo Music Festival, is a magnificent building dating back to 1733. Its spacious Baroque chapel serves as concert hall during the festival and provides a noble performance space with an intimate atmosphere and lively acoustics. Early in the twentieth century, the Kollegium was dedicated to the sixteenth century cardinal Saint Charles Borromeo of Milan, Italy. During a massive famine and outbreak of the plague in 1576, Milan’s aristocracy and government officials fled the city. Borromeo, coming from a wealthy family himself, chose to remain in the city to help the afflicted and to organize daily meals for approximately 60,000 poor people.

altdorf switzerland borromeo music school statue concert hall
william tell monument in altdorf switzerland
Inside the College Chapel

The ancient town of Altdorf...

...in the canton of Uri in Switzerland, is most famous for Switzerland’s legendary national folk hero William Tell, who is said to have shot an apple of his own son’s head in the town’s square. The great German playwright Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), embedded Tell’s famous altercation with the authorities sent by the Austrian Habsburg Empire in his play Wilhelm Tell into the history of the founding of the Swiss nation in the late 1200’s and early 1300’s. It was the three states (cantons) of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, each surrounding a portion of Lake Lucerne, who initially declared independence and freedom from the empire and founded the Swiss Confederacy in 1291. To this initial nucleus, 23 more states joined over the next several hundred years and came together in what today is modern-day Switzerland - a nation that has subscribed itself to the ideas of neutrality and diplomacy as two of its most ardent beliefs.

To this initial nucleus, 23 more states joined over the next several hundred years and came together in what today is modern-day Switzerland - a nation that has subscribed itself to the ideas of neutrality and diplomacy as two of its most ardent beliefs.