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Raff's birthplace
Lachen's Gemeindehaus,
site of Raff's birthplace

 

Plaque marking Raff's birthplace
Commerative plaque on the wall of the Gemeindehaus

Lachen: Raff's birthplace
Lachen Lachen
Lachen Lachen

The little town of Lachen nestles on the south shore of Lake Zürich in Switzerland, some 40 kms south east of Zürich itself in the canton of Schwyz. Here Joachim Raff was born on 27 May 1822 to Katharina Raff, the wife of the schoolteacher.

Today a thriving community of over 6000 people, it was home to perhaps only a quarter of that number during Raff's childhood. His birthplace - the town's original school house - no longer exists and on the site is Lachen's Gemeindehaus, or town hall. On its eastern side is a plaque, placed there in 1972 by the Lachen-based Swiss Joachim Raff Society, commemorating the composer.

Leading off from the Gemeindehaus and under the shadow of the twin onion- domed towers of Lachen's catholic church is Seeplatz - a small square which juts out into the lake leading to the landing stage for the steamers which frequently cross Zürichsee. In this tranquil setting a memorial to Raff stands in a small well-kept garden. Joseph Bisa's large abstract monument was unveiled on 29 October 1972 and was also erected under the auspices of the Swiss Joachim Raff Society.

The great baroque church still dominates the town as it did in Raff's day and it has been an appropriate and imposing venue for several Raff concerts in recent years.

Lachen remains a peaceful place. Its tranquil location between the placid waters of the upper lake and the foothills of the Schwyz massif to the south make it a popular sailing base for locals as the yachts moored in its small harbour bear witness. It is off the main tourist track but in many ways it represents so much of what is beguiling to foreigners about Switzerland. It has retained much of its old character and yet is a modern town; it has excellent road and rail links and yet has an unhurried air. For any devotee of Raff, a visit to Lachen is a worthwhile and relaxing excursion.

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