Fête de la Musique, its origins and history

Published by My de Sortiraparis · Published on June 21th, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Why is the Fête de la Musique celebrated on June 21? Who created the Fête de la Musique, where did it take place and when was the first edition? These are just some of the questions that deserve to be asked about the origins of the festival, and its history.

Every year, the Fête de la Musique is celebrated on June 21. But why June 21? Fête de la Musique is celebrated all over the world on the same day, coinciding with the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day, is celebrated in over a hundred countries on this day.

Cocorico, the origin of the Fête de la Musique is French. If we dig back to its beginnings, we come across the American Joel Cohen who, in1976, was working for France Musique. He proposed the creation of Saturnales de la Musique, which would take place on the two solstices, June 21 and December 21. The idea was to have music groups play on the evening of June 21, as was the case in western Paris and Toulouse.

But we have to go back to 1981 to learn how this festival became part of France's cultural history. Newly appointed Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret declared at the time that "Music will be everywhere and concerts nowhere"! For him, the revolution was underway, and would give voice to all genres of music: " a liberation of sound, an intoxication, a vertigo that is more authentic, more intimate, more eloquent than art" , he declared.

The following year, following a major survey of French cultural practices, it was discovered that 5 million people, half of them young people, played a musical instrument. It was then that Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, Maurice Fleuret and Christian Dupavillon, architect-scenographer and member of the Cabinet, came up with the idea of a major popular event that would enable all musicians to play and make a name for themselves during a festive evening .

Thus was born the very first Fête de la Musique as we know it today, on June 21 1982. It was a free festival, open to all music "without hierarchy of genres or practices" and to all French people.

At the time,no one knew just how popular it would become. Obviously, the result exceeded all expectations, and thousands of initiatives were launched to mark the occasion. From bandstands and gardens to streets and train stations, music was everywhere, and for one magical evening, the atmosphere was incredible. From professionals to amateurs, and music of all genres, from jazz to rock to traditional music, there's something for everyone.

It's a real popular success story, and one that began to be exported in 1985 with the European Year of Music, which is now developing within the framework of a charter, "La Fête Européenne de la Musique", signed in Budapest in 1997, and open to all new partners wishing to join in. The principles of this charter now apply to all countries, including those outside Europe, wishing to join the Fête de la Musique.

10 years later, the Fête de la Musique was running rampant in 85 countries and 5 continents; by 2011, the number had risen to 110, and by 2017, there were 120. It has since become a truly international celebration.

It's a great success that continues to be celebrated every June 21!

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