H. R. Giger was a Swiss artist remembered for his airbrushed images of machines and humans intertwined in cold biomechanical relationships. He is also remembered for his work as part of the special effects team that worked in Ridley Scott's 1979 science fiction horror film Alien, for which the team won an Academy Award.
Born to a music producer father, Cameron McVey, and a singer mother, Neneh Cherry, Mabel McVey was destined to make a career in music. The English singer-songwriter debuted on SoundCloud with her track Know Me Better. It is believed she had initially used music as a therapy for her anxiety.
Known as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner was one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and had a very long and successful career. Let's Stay Together, What's Love Got to Do with It, Private Dancer and Golden Eye are some of her chartbuster songs. She was also a songwriter and had acted in films too.
Peter René Baumann, better known as DJ BoBo, is a Swiss dance music sensation who has soared to fame with tracks such as Somebody Dance with Me. While he initially wished to work in the bakery industry, his love for dance made him change his career option.
Born mid-flight, Patrick Moraz was the son of a Polish pianist and mastered several instruments as a child. An accident in which he broke his fingers made him practice with his left hand and turned him ambidextrous. The legendary keyboardist is known for his stints with the bands Yes and The Moody Blues.
South African-born Daniela Di Lillo, or Nora En Pure, grew up in Switzerland, where she was introduced to music as a child. Now a world-renowned sensation in electronic music, she is known as the Queen of Deep House. The International Dance Music Award winner was previously also part of the Helvetic Nerds.
While Simonetta Sommaruga has been the president of Switzerland, she is also a talented pianist, trained at the Lucerne School of Music. She later dropped out of a university English course. She has also been the director of the Consumer Protection Foundation and part of committees on energy and the environment.
Known for his deep voice and his signature moustache, Swiss musician and conceptual artist Dieter Meier co-founded the electronic music band Yello. The son of an affluent banker, he dropped out of a law course and pursued music and art. He is also on the board of a music technology business.
Swiss tenor Urs Bühler has made waves as part of the classical crossover male quartet Il Divo. While he began training in music at age 5 and mastered a number of instruments, he was more interested in rock and heavy metal as a teenager. Surprisingly, one of his hobbies is restoring motorbikes.
While she gained recognition with the folk metal band Eluveitie, which she joined at age 16, Swiss musician Anna Murphy later also led the 3-member folk rock band Cellar Darling. Born to opera singer parents, she was never a stranger to music. Proficient in hurdy-gurdy, she also plays the flute at times.
French-born Swiss composer Arthur Honegger was part of the legendary Les Six and heralded the modern movement in French music. Trained in Zurich and Paris, he later soared to fame with his version of Le Roi David. Antigone and Pacific 231 remain two of his most popular pieces.
Ladyva began learning the piano at 14 and is now one of the greatest boogie woogie musicians of all time. In April 2020, the Swiss artist performed a piano piece, Quarantine Boogie, from her home, owing to the COVID-19 lockdown. The piece got her 100,000 YouTube hits in less then 5 days.
Known as a pioneer of death metal, Swiss metal musician Thomas Gabriel Fischer, also known as Satanic Slaughter, soared to fame with groups such as Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Triptykon. One of Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time, Fischer has also penned a book.
Born to a Jewish family in Geneva, Ernest Bloch had learned to play the violin by age 9. Best known for works such as Avodath Hakodesh, Bloch composed music that carried a significant neoclassical trend. He also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a skilled photographer, too.
Grammy-winning Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider was no stranger to music as a child, being the son of an organist father. He is now regarded as one of the pioneering new-age artists. While he initially mastered instruments such as the guitar and the flute, he switched to the harp much later.
Swiss pop sensation Luca Hanni created history by becoming the youngest and the first non-German winner of the German talent show Deutschland sucht den Superstar. Though he had mastered the guitar and the piano at an early age, his first job was that of a bricklayer.
Swiss drummer Jojo Mayer was no stranger to music in his childhood, being the son of bassist Vali Mayer. Introduced to the drums at age 2, he later started experimenting with jazz. His interest in electronic and experimental funk made him launch the New York-based trio Nerve.
Lys Assia created history by becoming the first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Swiss-born singer was initially a dancer but had her first brush with music when she filled in for an absentee singer. She later released hits such as Moulin Rouge and O Mein Papa.
Born to circus-owner parents, James Thiérrée began performing on stage at age 4. He later stepped into theater and films and gained international fame with his César Award-winning portrayal of George Foottit in the film Chocolat. He is also the grandson of legendary comedian and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin.
While he initially studied law, Swiss singer Thomas Winkler later found his calling in heavy metal and gained fame as part of the British power metal band Gloryhammer. In late 2021, a Facebook post on the band’s page announced that Winkler had left the band.
Dubbed Mr. Acapulco, Teddy Stauffer was a Swiss musician who revolutionized Acapulco’s nightclub industry. The owner of a number of posh eateries and nightclubs, he also led the Acapulco Film Festival. Once part of the band The Teddies, he was also one of the 6 husbands of actor Hedy Lamarr.
Swiss instrumentalist and composer Adrian von Ziegler, known for his signature long mane, first gained international attention on YouTube, where he has over a million subscribers. A self-proclaimed lover of Celtic and fantasy music, he also often experiments with metal and Oriental music. He was initially known by his pseudonym Indigo.
Martin Stricker, better known as Martin Eric Ain, gained international fame as the bassist for the Swiss extreme metal band Celtic Frost. The US-born musician later co-owned a music club and launched a DVD shop, too. He died of a heart attack at age 50.
Best known as the lead vocalist of the Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie, Christian Oliver Glanzmann, or Chrigel Glanzmann, is also skilled in playing a number of instruments, such as the bagpipes, the mandola, the bodhrán, and the tin whistle. Glanzmann had first formed his band as a studio project.
The winner of the German talent show Deutschland Sucht den Superstar in 2013, Swiss pop and Schlager artist Beatrice Egli had started singing at age 14. She had initially gained fame with her 2011 album Feuer und Flamme. Her Swiss chart-topping album Glücksgefühle also reached the second spot in Germany and Austria.
Grammy-nominated Swiss musician Oz had initially taken up music as a hobby. He is now best known for his chartbusting collaborations with artists such as Drake and Travis Scott. With tracks such as Sicko Mode and Highest in the Room, he already has multiple Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers.
Best known as part of the Swiss rock band Gotthard, Steve Lee was mostly a vocalist but was also skilled in the drums and the harmonica. He co-founded the band Krak, which eventually became Gotthard. He was killed in a freak motorcycle accident while on a biking trip in Nevada with his friends.
Swiss folk-pop-blues singer Sophie Hunger learned playing the piano as a child and was later introduced to jazz by her music-loving diplomat father. Known for albums such as Halluzinationen and Molecules, she has also won a Swiss Film Award for the soundtrack of the Oscar-nominated film My Life as a Courgette.
Swiss-born Albanian singer Ilira Gashi, better known as Ilira, was placed third, along with her band, on the show Die grosse Entscheidungs Show. She later moved to Berlin to explore her music career and created hits such as Fading. The Europe Music Award-nominated singer has now signed with Virgin and Universal.
American-Swiss artist Christian Marclay has revolutionized art by inventing turntablism, a method of manipulating sounds. He is also known for his unusual art installations, such as the video The Clock, a compilation of film scenes featuring clocks, which eventually won him the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Born Antoine Conrad, DJ Antoine has added his own flavor to house music. The Swiss DJ’s 2000 mix album Houseworks 01 made it to the Swiss charts, while Mainstation was a top-10 hit. He is now best known for his global hit Welcome to St. Tropez and his collaboration with Akon, Holiday.
Though Patrick Juvet had begun playing the piano at age 7, he also had a successful career as a model in Germany later. The Swiss disco singer is best remembered for his chartbusting track I Love America. Though openly bisexual, he also revealed in his memoir that he preferred men over women.
Swiss-born Greek singer-actor Panos Mouzourakis is best known for his roles in the Greek series S1ngles and 4. He had first gained attention with the play Acharnis, which toured around the globe. He has also lent his voice to the Greek version of the hit Disney animated film Frozen.
Swiss-born Afghan-Italian electronic music producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï had spent his initial years in Kabul before moving to Paris with his family. He is best known as a frequent collaborator of Madonna. Initially a guitarist with the punk group Taxi Girl, he soared to fame with his work on Madonna’s Grammy-nominated album Music.
Remembered for pioneering the eurythmics approach of learning music, Swiss composer Émile Jaques-Dalcroze was a major figure of the modernist movement in music. Starting his career as a professor at the Geneva Conservatory, he later launched his own music school, which was later shut down by the Nazis.
Kurt Maloo initially attended business school but later focused on a career in conceptual art and painting. Born into a musical family, he performed with many local bands, too. He later soared to fame as part of the duo Double and with chartbusting hits such as The Captain of Her Heart.
One of the greatest 20th-century Swiss composers, Frank Martin had mastered the piano even before joining school. While he was initially pushed to study math and physics, he later completely focused on music. Though mostly inspired by Christianity, he also created music for many plays and operas.
After winning a talent search content on the show TV Total, Stefanie Heinzmann became a soul-pop sensation with award-winning hits such as My Man Is a Mean Man. She also performed as part of the rock band Bigfisch. Her debut album, Masterplan, topped music charts in Switzerland.
Born to a Swiss dairy farmer in Canada, Mandy Meyer moved to Switzerland with his father after his parents’ divorce and soon explored music. Initially interested in the drums, he took to the guitar at 12. After performing as part of Krokus, he later joined the Swiss rock band Gotthard.
Widely known as the man who popularized French pop music, Alain Souchon explored both personal and political themes with his music. The 7-time Victoires de la musique award winner soared to fame with the phenomenal 1993 hit Foule sentimentale. He has also appeared in a few films.
Swiss-Croatian singer Bernarda Brunović, also known as Bernarda Bruno, first gained fame as the runner-up on Die grosse Entscheidungs Show. She later also made it to the semi-finals of season 8 of The Voice of Germany. Known for her tracks such as Colors and Here for Love, she is signed with Scardona.
Initially part of the band Kid Creole and the Coconuts, which she co-established with August Darnell, aka Kid Creole, and Coati Mundi, Adriana Kaegi later became a web content producer, creating an award-winning live webcast series. She has also appeared in the movie Against All Odds.
Swiss musician Carlos Perón started his career with the New Wave band Urland, as a keyboardist. He later co-founded the electronic band Yello and also contributed to soundtracks of movies such as Die schwarze Spinne. He has also worked on commercials and soundtracks for theater.
One of the greatest virtuoso oboists of all time, Heinz Holliger had already started playing the recorder and the piano by age 6 and focused on the oboe at age 11. He later applied new techniques to the oboe, such as harmonics and multiphonics. He has also composed works such as the opera Schneewittchen.
One of the greatest 20th-century pianists, Edwin Fischer is best remembered for his renditions of German legends such as Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven. He not only established his own chamber orchestra, but also taught in Lucerne and launched a foundation to help young and underprivileged musicians.
Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet, who founded the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, is remembered chiefly because of his renditions of various French and Russian composers of the 20th century. Unknown to many, he initially taught math at the University of Lausanne. He has also penned books on music.
Swiss rock musician Chris von Rohr is best known for his stint with the band Krokus. He has also penned 3 bestselling books, written columns for the news magazine Schweizer Illustrierte, and contributed to the score of the movie Gone Girl. He also briefly collaborated with Gotthard as their producer.
Martin Tillman scripted history by becoming the first electric cellist to compose for a Hollywood movie, The Fan. He has also contributed to the soundtracks of movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight trilogy. His work on the documentary Cries from Syria earned him an Emmy nomination.
One of the world’s best-known clowns, Swiss entertainer Grock earned the title of The King of Clowns. He learned his first tricks from his father, before joining a caravan, performing as an acrobat, and then a traveling circus. Proficient in a number of instruments, he used his musical skills to entertain the audience.
While his marriage to Maja Stehlin, the widow of the sole heir of the pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche, made him the world’s third-richest man, Paul Sacher was a talented composer in his own right. Apart from a chamber orchestra and a choir, he also founded a music academy.