Irène Schweizer: jazz pianist, activist, icon. A self-taught musician from the Swiss village of Schaffhausen, at the age of 19 she won first prize at the Zurich amateur jazz festival. (The festival had not anticipated that a woman might win: first prize was a men's shirt.) The creative journey of this young woman from the north of Switzerland led her inexorably to experimental music: from the London jazz club Ronnie Scott's and the Zurich club Africana to avant-garde stages in Wuppertal, Berlin, Willisau, Chicago, and New York; from concerts with Don Cherry, Louis Moholo and George Lewis to solo appearances as a celebrated artist in the
Swiss temples of high culture: the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre and the Zurich Tonhalle. She fought constantly for artistic freedom and autonomy. Her committed action against apartheid and for women's rights resulted in her surveillance by Swiss intelligence agencies, revealed in the "secret files scan- dal" of 1989. Undaunted, Schweizer persisted in her activism for left politics in Switzerland.
Christian Broecking has researched and written the biography of one of the most exceptional musicians of the post-war period in Europe.