World Music Day, a French tradition that has gone international

Thursday, 21 June 2018 14:32
World Music Day, a French tradition that has gone international © Belga
The Fête de la Musique is being celebrated today, Thursday, in Belgium, concurrently with the French and other editions of the festival, also known as World Music Day.
The festival is timed to coincide with the Summer Solstice, the longest day in the year. Celebrated on June 21, the Solstice ushers in the Summer.

World Music Day was officially launched in 1982 by Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture in the socialist government of Francois Mitterand. Today marks the 34th celebration of its Belgian edition, la Fête de la Musique belge.

On this day, streets, squares and public gardens in various parts of the world resound with rhythms as diverse as their public. During this big popular festival, which is totally free, amateur and professional musicians are invited to go to public places to play jazz, rock, classical music, rap or electric music.

The initiative for the event came from Lang who, on the 20th of June 1982, the eve of the first festival, called on television for a “democratization of music” because “a morose, depressed country is not a country that wins economic battles.”

Some people say the idea really came from American luth player Joël Cohen, who was then working at Radio France-Musique. To give the station a boost, he proposed in 1976 to keep the antenna open throughout the night and play music taped in the street. This first edition was, however, also the last.

A few years later, the socialists resuscitated the idea, giving it a success that soon became planet-wide.

In 2017, more than 120 countries celebrated World Music Day.

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times
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