La Fête des vignerons (The Festival of Winegrowers) formed the origins for the cultural movement unique to Lavaux. Around this celebration bonds were created and desires for more complex music were manifested. Many local associations began making music including some more sophisticated techniques thanks to this Festival and the choirs which form an important part of the canton’s identity.
This movement began during the first part of the 20th Century. The music societies, the most important of which were those from Chexbres, Epesses, Grandvaux, Lutry and Vevey, would invite composers to expand their repertoire allowing them to abandon the monotonous hymns originating from oral traditions or drinking songs. Gustave Doret, Charles Mayor, Carlo Boller, Carlo Hemmerling, Robert Mermoud, Jean Balissat, Michel Hostettler, Patrick Bron and Dominique Gesseney-Rappo were among those approached who were inspired by texts from reputable authors such as René Morax, Geo-H. Blanc and Emile Gardaz.
Jean Villard-Gilles is an important figure bound to St-Saphorin and Vaud. He is a songwriter who, a few years after creating one of his most famous compositions “La Venoge”, settled in St-Saphorin where he lived out his last 20 years.
Several famous artists, including pianists, violinists and conductors, lived in Lavaux such as the Flonzalet String Quartet. Lavaux and the nearby region also benefit from being the stage for the Cully Jazz Festival, created in 1983, which has managed to establish an important place among the other festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, the “Septembre musical” and the “Festival de musique classique” in Vevey-Montreux.
Source : WAVRE, Pierre, « Musique », in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes, Lavaux World Heritage Site Application File for UNESCO, Cully, January 2006, p. 34.