Fête de la Musique: a worldwide phenomenon rooted in France

Let’s be honest… what better way–major sporting events, war or natural disasters aside–to find solidarity and companionship, other than experiencing [live] music?! Don’t you agree? Should it be any surprise that the Fête de la Musique (or Music Day, or Make Music Day or World Music Day), has grown to be a world-wide phenomenon each year on 21 June?

Music is so many things! To the ears, to our sense of rhythm and self-expression, to our emotions and need for togetherness, to being lost in a performance, music speaks a common, universal, language.

But to what do we owe the annual celebration of music and why is it on June 21st?

  1. American musician Joel Cohen came up with the concept it in 1976 when he worked at Radio France-Musique in Paris. Celebrating music on the longest day of the year was his idea to give the station a boost. It was the first and only “unofficial” fete de la musique.
  2. In 1981 Maurice Fleuret became the director of Music and Dance by the appointment of Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture under President Francois Mitterand.
  3. A 1982 survey on the cultural habits of the French showed that one young person out of two played a musical instrument.
  4. Through this survey and in combination with his own philosophies as to the power of music, Maurice Fleuret longed to have “music everywhere and concerts nowhere”.
  5. The French Minister of Culture was onboard with the idea and the first Fête de la Musique was officially launched in Paris on June 21st, 1982 – on the day of the summer solstice or the longest day of the year.

The concept

  • On Music Day citizens of a city or country are encouraged to play music outdoors in their neighborhoods.
  • Free concerts are organized in public spaces such as town squares and parks. Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, for free, under the slogan "Faites de la musique" or “Make Music"
  • As an ingenious way to bring people out on the streets, and celebrate music together, all genres of music are made accessible to the public. There is no hierarchy of artists and no genre barrier.

Since that day in 1982 the idea has taken root in many countries across the globe including Belgium, China, India, Germany, Jamaica, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and over 100 more!

Just think about this for a second…. Music being celebrated by millions and millions of loved ones, friends and strangers swaying their hips or pumping their fists or lounging and listening to [whatever] beat on the same day.

How wonderful is this cultural phenomenon? We believe a debt of gratitude is due to Maurice Fleuret, and Jack Lang (Joel Cohen too) – and all the participants in the last 37 years. It ought to be the stuff of a Nobel Peace prize!

In our opinion.

So be spontaneous and head out to the streets this June 21st!

** An interactive map for the events in France doesn't seem available this year. Perhaps the event has grown too large by now.
** Check our Facebook Group for event announcements/ locations we found interesting in the Vendee
**It is best to scour the Internet for your own area's events, and street-level announcements.