The idea about the festival that would consolidate Varaždin’s rich tradition and history in culture, music, and education – particularly in music, was born in 1968 on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the Music School Varaždin. A group of Croatian musicians and cultural public workers decided this tradition could be best illustrated by the festival Varaždin Baroque Evenings that would consolidate and present the richest and the most extensively preserved heritage: musical, architectural, horticultural, visual, literary, and educational.
In the year 1971, the first three-day-long festival was held, at that time one of the few in Europe specialized in this type of music in Europe. At that time musicologists and musicians were extensively discussing the ways of performing this music – whether to use the contemporary instruments and existing ensembles or using instruments and sorts of ensembles from the past times. Europe had renovated architecture and instruments; among the corpus of ensembles and orchestras, there were artists profiled in Baroque music. The leading countries in the mentioned aspect were England, Germany, and France.
Some of the most memorable performances from the past festival years are: the concert of Jordi Savall, a doyen of baroque music, the festival opening concert of The Vienna Boys’ Choir (in 2012), Le Concert Spirituel concert conducted by Herce Niquet and numerous concerts held by Le Tendre Amour, a Spanish ensemble, which proves that Baroque can be funny and grandiose at the same time.
It is important to mention that VBE is mainly about authenticity – the authenticity of ambient because Varaždin is one of the best-maintained baroque cities and the program is held in palaces, churches, and castles from that period; the authenticity of performance because concerts are performed on baroque instruments; and authenticity of the program consisting of baroque compositions.