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.
The Varaždin Baroque Evenings, by bringing eminent European authors, musicians and ensembles as well as performing their repertoire, developed the awareness regarding the restoration of the Baroque heritage that was devastated. Regarding the instrument corpus, the most neglected were organ. The presence of European musicians and ensembles stimulated researching of Baroque and general cultural heritage, including the Varaždin, Croatian, European and even world heritage (the South-American Baroque). Every year the number of concerts as well as research and restoration activities increased. Other activities were accessed: individual international productions, audio and visual recordings of concerts, printing of researched scores and publishing of live and studio CDs. Every year the Varaždin Baroque Evenings became a meeting place for musicologists, musicians, performers, builders of authentic instruments, students and music teachers from all across the world. After forty five years of permanent holding of the festival, number illustrating the development appeared: since the first three-day-long festival, it expanded to the two-week festival; instead of three concerts, the number of them increased to thirty; from the number of ten musicians, the number increased to thousand; from a hundred visitors, the number came up to ten thousand; starting from one restored organ there are fifteen of them now; from one harpsichord up to ten; not a single fortepiano back then – there are two now… In the past 45 years, festival kept rising and improving each year, weather in quality of performances, spreading on new locations, new compositors, new musical areas where performers are coming from, new audience, new content. Concept of the festival is strengthened each year by partner countries whose culture is promoted by their musicians and compositors. So far, partners were Israel, Germany, Austria, Russia, Slovakia, Poland, Italy, France and this year it will be Spain.