Everything began 27 years ago in the Stadttheater of Merano in Italy. That is where the first Merano Music Festival was inaugurated in 1986 as a contribution to the 150th anniversary of the health resort. The president of the Music Festival Society and the artistic director, both of whom have been connected to the festival since its very beginning, very quickly gained the confidence of the general public. The fact that the 400 seats of the Art Nouveau building would not be sufficient was obvious by 1987. Even the spacious StÂ Nikolaus parish church could not accommodate all those wishing to attend a concert by I Solisti Veneti. Since the very beginning, the festival has settled for only the highest musical quality. Guests of the second festival season included the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Emerson String Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of New York â€“ top ensembles that are otherwise only to be heard in the major music metropolises of the world. The desire to procure only the best artists in the city was also defined by the programme offering of the Merano Music Festival after moving into the restored Kursaal in the autumn of 1989. The fact that the courage to take risks can pay off is shown by a musical event in 1994. At that time, the London Symphony Orchestra, whose appearance in Verona had surprisingly been cancelled, was â€˜spontaneouslyâ€™ booked for two evenings in Merano. Both concerts were sold out, and the Music Festival once again achieved a new audience record. In subsequent years, the Kursaal stage was regularly host to some of the worldâ€™s best classical groups, including the City of Birmingham Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 1990, the Night Concert has been a fixed institution of the Music Festival. Night Concerts have presented such varied artists as the â€˜King of Klezmerâ€™ Giora Feidman, jazz legend Joe Zawinul, violinist Gidon Kremer, the eccentric Friedrich Gulda, or vocal wonder Bobby McFerrin. Along with the successful â€˜additional seriesâ€™ of Colours of Music and MatinÃ©e Classique, the Night Concerts also show that the Merano Music Festival is more than just a classical festival which only attracts friends of symphonic music. In Merano, both jazz fans and lovers of chamber music will have a great time again and again. The annual budget is around â‚¬1 million and 20 concerts with 12,000 spectators take place during a period of six weeks. Almost 80% of the budget is spent on the artists. 50% of the revenue comes from the public and 50% from the private sector via ticketing, sponsors and foundations (see Table 8.3).