30 years of Fête de la Musique
Retrospective and selection

© c. moreux
21/06/2011 -

In the space of three decades we’ve got used to looking forward to it like we wait for summer. On this 21 June 2011, the Fête de la Musique is an ultramarine affair, taking on the theme of the Année de l’Outre-mer (French overseas territories year). We look back on a far-sighted initiative that has inspired the globe.


The Fête de la Musique first saw the light in France on 21 June 1982, dreamed up by three men: Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture at the time, Christian Dupavillon, an events consultant, and music director Maurice Fleuret. After a survey of French people’s cultural practices, they realised that millions owned a musical instrument and one in two was an amateur musician. Mad-cap idea or calculated gamble, they decided to create a special festival day to celebrate diversity and freedom, and invite everyone to take part. Music is street art, and the slogan they hit on was: "Faites de la musique" (make music).
Prisons and hospitals
Every year since then, midsummer’s day welcomes the biggest free event open to everyone, embracing all styles and ages. The Fête de la Musique breaks down barriers, encourages exchange, opens up a path that leads right into hospitals and prisons, and democratises access to the art of music by gathering people together. For the last few years, thanks to a government initiative, it has crossed borders and set up shop in the all over the world. 
The Fête de la Musique has proved a perfect opportunity to promote French culture and artists abroad. After conquering Belgium from year two, it is now a fixture in around one hundred countries, and for the first time this year in Vancouver, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. The festival survived a commercial blip that featured giant sponsored concerts in the 1990s, went on to reclaim its French soul, and now takes on a different theme each year. This 21 June will be stamped by a diverse smattering of overseas music, from Guadeloupean gwokas to Martinican biguines, including maloya from Reunion and other Polynesian tamures.

Our short selection
  • Paris

In the Palais Royal gardens, the Ministry of Culture and Communication is organising a free concert entitled Musique des trois océans. After an afternoon spent around the fountain listening to Gospel Forever’s Creole gospel, Hawaiian ukuleles played by Hula Serenaders and Guadeloupean and Martinican rhythms, the festival will really get going on the big stage from 7 pm with an original creation based on percussion led by Dédé Saint-Prix (Martinique). During the evening the following artists will perform on stage: Baco (Mayotte), Tyssia (New Caledonia), Erik (Guadeloupe), Valérie Loury (Martinique), Davy Sicard (Reunion), and Malavoi (West Indies).

  • Brussels

Aimed at the general public, a special programme of Taratata (France 2) will be broadcast live from the Place des Palais, in the heart of the Belgian capital. Featuring Julien Doré, Louis Bertignac, Asa, Yael Naim, Brigitte, Tété, Nolwenn Leroy, Yannick Noah, Sexion d’Assaut, La Fouine, Martin Solveig, Christophe Maé and the Belgians Selah Sue and Stromae.

  • New York

Central Park will be the scene of the 5th Summerstage Festival, with concerts by Ben l’Oncle Soul and Catherine Ringer (Rita Mitsouko), as well as a projection of a tribute documentary by Pascal Forneri on women who have interpreted Serge Gainsbourg’s music.

  • Elsewhere

Numerous French artists will be performing all over the world, like Bernard Lavilliers in Cairo (Egypt), JP Nataf in London (United Kingdom) and Les Blérots de Ravel in Beirut (Lebanon). In Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Dakar (Senegal), the stage will be open to young creators, inviting amateurs and professionals to share their love of music.

For the full programme:


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