French music throughout the ages
Each week we will be adding a French musician or composer for you to listen to.
Jazz, accordion, piano, song, Baroque, orchestral, pop, new age, rock and more. France loves its music and so do we!
Born on the outskirts of Paris in 1862, Claude Debussy was one of the most influential composers of the late 19th, early 20th centuries. Although his personal life was often in turmoil and he was a bit of a rebel and artistic outcast, his music, such as Claire de la Lune and Arabesque created, according to analyst David Cox, “a new, instinctive, dreamlike world of music, lyrical and pantheistic, contemplative and objective – a kind of art”. He only completed one opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, which premiered today in 1902 at the Salle Favart in Paris and was performed by the Opéra-Comique. It brought him international fame and was a huge success.
Take five (or an hour) and listen to some of his best works
We can’t mention French music throughout the ages without this lady!
Spend a half hour with Edith Piaf and improve your French whilst you are at it! Born in Paris in 1915, Edith was to become one of France’s most famous singer-songwriters, film actress and cabaret performers on the international stage. She was actually born as Edith Giovanna Gassion. The name Edith was in honour of Edith Cavell, a WWI British nurse who had been executed for helping French soldiers escape German captivity two months before her birth. Her past was chequered with difficulty and distress until she was discovered in a Paris nightclub. Extremely nervous and a diminutive figure at just 142 cm, it was then that she earned her nickname La Môme Piaf (the little sparrow) and started to wear her trademark black dress.
Dah dah dee dah dah dahhh….. Non, je ne regrette rien
Born Jean-Philippe Léo Smet in Paris in 1943, Johnny Hallyday is said to be the man who initiated rock and roll in France. Much loved during his 57-year career, he sold over 110 million records and released 79 albums (40 gold, 5 diamond, 22 platinum and 10 Music Victories) making him one of the most successful artists in the world. Very much influenced by Elvis Presley, and sometimes called The French Elvis, he sang mostly in French with hits such as Mon plus beau Noël, Marie and Ca n’finira Jamais reaching No. 1. He won the title of “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of” because, despite his vast success, he remained pretty much unknown outside of the Francophone world. Enjoy some of his best in this 1h 30 mins selection.
In terms of French music throughout the ages, he is an absolute legend!