Geneva has long been a home for the Arts, with literary giants like James Joyce and composers like Arthur Honegger. Of course, they needed the right venues to house them! One “little” gem of a music hall is the Victoria Hall, at the join between the Finance Quarter, Plainpalais, and Bastions, which was a gift to Switzerland in 1905.
Built between 1891 and 1894 by the then-Consul of England Daniel Fitzgerald Packenham Barton, it was originally to satisfy his two passions: sailing and music. Don’t seem relevant, right? First, he founded the Nautical Harmony and built the Hall as their conservatory. The “Nautical” is from their main purpose: to play on ships sailing the Lake Léman, enthralling the Consul’s guests. Consul Barton dedicated the Hall to Queen Victoria (hence the name)… but also to his wife Victoria-Alexandra.
This place is very impressive: neo-Baroque decor, seating for 1,700 people (huge for the time!), and accompanying acoustics apparently qualified as exceptional. Be sure to check out Winterhalter’s portrait of Queen Victoria, it’s well worth admiring, as well as the “monumental” organ, one of 6 built in the late 19th century.
Victoria Hall is not only a music hall, but also a meeting place for the City of Geneva, and because of that it’s always close to my heart: it’s where I was sworn in as a Swiss citizen! Not bad for a globe-trotting American, right?
Little Secret 1
Victoria Hall hosted the 1984 Eurovision Young Musicians competition!
Little Secret 2
Inexpensive monthly Sunday concerts!