The first Fête de la Musique was held in France on June 21, 1982, the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Socialist François Mitterrand was elected president of the Republic one year earlier and Jack Lang was the Minister of Culture. A major survey on the cultural practices of the French carried out by his ministry in 1982 revealed that “five million people, including one in two young people, play a musical instrument, whereas the musical events organized until now only concern a minority of French people”, wrote the French Ministry of Culture.
Jack Lang, Maurice Fleuret (director of music and dance), Christian Dupavillon (architect-scenographer, member of the minister’s staff) will then imagine a great free popular festival that brings together professional and amateur musicians as well as all musical genres. On that day, music had to be everywhere : in the streets, gardens, hospitals, prisons, kiosks, train stations, on the squares, etc.
In spite of an organization in haste, this first edition was a real success : thousands of people (musicians and public) were outside to celebrate music. Three years after its creation, the Fête de la Musique began to be adopted by European countries during the European Year of Music ; in 1997, a charter was signed in Budapest to govern the European Music Fest.
This charter now applies to all countries in the world participating in this event ; in 2017, there were 120.
40 years after its launch, the Fête de la Musique has become a major artistic and cultural event in mainland France and in the French Overseas Territories, particularly in the French Caribbean (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, St. Barthélemy, not forgetting French Guiana on the South American continent).