The Festival not only welcomed the greatest pianists of all times (from Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, leading figure of the first five editions, to Magaloff, from Richter to Arrau, Pollini, Ashkenazy, Radu Lupu, Zimerman, Brendel, Martha Argerich, Evgenij Kissin, Grigory Sokolov) but also instrumentalists, singers, and conductors of very high calibre, such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Mischa Maisky, Uto Ughi, Luciano Pavarotti, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Gergiev, Giulini, Sawallisch, Solti, Maazel, Chung.
Among the orchestras which stand out we can find the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the National de France, the Academy Orchestra of Santa Cecilia in Rome, and La Scala Philharmonic.
One of the main characteristics which distinguish the Festival from other similar events is its thematic nature, with a common thread which, from time to time, focuses on a different author, cultural context, or historical period.
Among the most successful editions of the Festival, there are the complete piano works of Schumann and Debussy as well as Chopin and Brahms, and the monographs dedicated to Beethoven and Mozart.
In 1986, the Festival was awarded with the Abbiati Award of the Italian Music Critics and the Liszt Medal of the Hungarian Ministry of Culture, and since 1987 it is a member of the European Festivals Association.
Founding member of Italiafestival, the Festival is under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and since 1992 under the High Patronage of the President of the European Parliament.
More recently, the Festival experienced significant changes with a new Artistic Director, the son of former director Agostino Orizio, Pier Carlo, and with a new President, Andrea Gibellini, who succeeded Filippo Siebaneck.
Under the guidance of Pier Carlo Orizio, the Festival has embarked on a new path which combines contemporary music and great classical repertoire, as it happened in past editions: in 2007, with Beethoven and Arvo Pärt; in 2008, with Chopin and Bernstein; and finally in the 46th edition dedicated to China, in 2009, with the participation of Tan Dun.
The edition of 2012 has become a milestone in the annals of the Festival for the special prologue featuring Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in Brescia.
In 2013, the Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with an extraordinary edition which had the Polish composer and director Krzysztof Penderecki and the London Symphony Orchestra led by Antonio Pappano as its guests of honour.