French musicians letter to Macron: Our entire profession is in jeopardy

French musicians letter to Macron: Our entire profession is in jeopardy


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2020

A list of 263 French musicians, led by pianist David Fray and the Modigliani, Belcea, Ebène (pictured) and Diotima string quartets, has written to President Macron calling for financial aid for freelance artists.


We are not used to expressing ourselves in words. Our language is that of notes, phrasing, articulations, bowsings… We must, however, describe and name a situation which leaves us speechless. Because we are disarmed. Like everyone, faced with this pandemic, its mourning, this mysterious and dreaded second wave.

And of course, destitute, in the first sense, that is to say, without the material resources which until now sustained our daily lives….

Read on here.

Here is the complete list of signatories:
Accordéonistes Fanny Vicens, Félicien Brut ; Altistes Lise Berthaud, Adrien Boisseau, Nicolas Carles, Gérard Caussé, Miguel Da silva, Pierre Franck, Mayeul Girard, Léa Hennino, Mathieu Herzog, Adrien La Marca, Isabelle Lequien, Michel Michalakakos, Beatrice Muthelet, Jean Sautereau, Diederik Suys, Antoine Tamestit ; Bassonistes Pascal Gallois, Evolène Kiener, Amiel Prouvost ; Clarinettistes Paul Meyer, Raphaël Sévère ; Contrebassistes Laurène Durantelle, Edouard Macarez ; Corniste David Guerrier ; Flûtiste Patrick Gallois ; Guitaristes Thibaut Garcia, Christian Rivet ; Harpiste Isabelle Moretti ; Ondes Martenot Thomas Bloch ; Percussionniste Daniel Ciampolini ; Pianistes Pascal Amoyel, Arthur Ancelle, Nicholas Angelich, Fanny Azzuro, Ludmila Berlinskaya, David Bismuth, Florent Boffard, Stefan Cassar, Bertand Chamayou, Emmanuel Christien, Jean Philippe Collard, Jean Marie Cottet, Geoffroy Couteau, Michel Dalberto, Celimene Daudet, Claire Désert, Tanguy De Williencourt, Gaspard Dehaene, Shani Diluka, Jérôme Ducros, François Dumont, Nina de Felice, David Fray, Jean-Paul Gasparian, Julien Gernay, Nathanael Gouin, François-Frederic Guy, Jean-François Heisser, Emmanuelle Jaspart, David Kadouch, Nicolas Kruger, Adam Laloum, Claire-Marie Le Guay, Eric Le Sage, Jean-Marc Luisada, Vahan Mardirossian, Ismaël Margain, Selim Mazari, Dominique Merlet, Nathalia Milstein, Paul Montag, Jérémie Moreau, Jean-Frederic Neuburger, Josquin Otal, Denis Pascal, Jean-Claude Pennetier, Alain Planès, Anne Queffélec, Pierre Reach, Jacques Rouvier, Lise de la Salle, Emmanuel Strosser, Alexandre Tharaud, Audrey Vigoureux ; Quatuors Quatuor Agate (Adrien Jurkovic, Thomas Descamps, Raphaël Pagnon, Simon Iachemet), Quatuor Akos (Alexis Gomez, Aya Murakami, Théo Delianne, Cyrielle Golin), Quatuor Akilone (Emeline Concé, Elise De-Bendelac, Tess Joly, Lucie Mercat), Quatuor Ardeo (Carole Petitdemange, Mi-sa Yang, Yuko Hara, Joëlle Martinez), Quatuor Arod (Jordan Victoria Alexandre Vu Tanguy Parisot Samy Rachid), Quautor Belcea (Corina Belcea, Axel Schacher, Krzysztof Chorzelski, Antoine Lederlin), Quatuor Bergen (Mathilde Klein, Sakkan Sarasap, Mirabelle le Thomas et Magdalena Probe), Quatuor Chiaroscuro (Alina Ibragimova Pablo Hernan Beneti, Emilie Hörnlund, Claire Thirion), Quatuor Confluence (Daniel Vlashi ,Vincent Forestier, Pierre-Antoine Codron , Tom Almerge-Zerillo), Quatuor Danel (Marc Danel, Gilles Millet, Vlad Bogdanas ,Yovan Markovitch), Quatuor Diotima (Yun Peng Zhao, Constance Ronzatti, Franck Chevalier,Pierre Morlet), Quatuor Elmire (Cyprien Brod, Nam Nguyen Issey Nadaud Rémi Carlon), Quatuor Ebène ( Pierre Colombet, Gabriel Lemagadure, Marie Chilemme, Raphaël Merlin), Quatuor Girard (Hugues Girard, Agathe Girard, Odon Girard, Lucie Girard), Quatuor Hanson (Anton Hanson, Jules Dussap Gabrielle Lafait Simon Dechambre), Quatuor Hermès (Omer Bouchez, Elise Liu, Yung-Hsin, Lou Chang, Yan Levionnois), Quatuor Ludwig (Sébastien Surel, Manuel Doutrelant, Padrig Fauré, Anne Copéry), Quatuor Métamorphoses (Mathilde Potier, Rachel Sintzel, Jean-Baptiste Souchon, Alice Picaud), Quatuor Modigliani (Amaury Coeytaux, Loïc Rio, Laurent Marfaing, François Kieffer), Quatuor Mona (Verena Chen, Roxana Rastegar Arianna Smith Elia Cohen Weissert), Quatuor Psophos (Eric Lacrouts, Bleuenn Le Maitre, Cécile Grassi, Guillaume Martigné ), Quatuor Tana (Antoine Maisonhaute, Ivan Lebrun, Maxime Desert, Jeanne Maisonhaute), Quatuor Van Kuijk (Nicolas Van Kuijk , Sylvain Favre-Bulle, Emmanuel François, François Robin), Quatuor Wassily (Quentin Reymond, Marine Faup-Pelot, Dominik Baranowski, Raphaël Ginzburg), Quatuor Zahir (Guillaume Berceau, Sandro Compagnon, Florent Louman, Joakim Ciesla) ; Trios Trio Chausson (Matthieu Handtschoewercker, Antoine Landowski, Boris de Larochelambert), Trio Hélios (Camille Fonteneau, Raphaël Jouan, Alexis Gournel), Trio Karenine (Fanny Robilliard, Louis Rodde, Paloma Kouider), Trio Metral (Victor, Joseph ,Justine Metral ), Trio Sora (Pauline Chenais, Angèle Legasa, Clémence de Forceville), Trio Zadig (Boris Borgolotto, Marc Girard, Garcia Ian Barber) ; Violonistes Luc-Marie Aguera, Flore-Anne Brosseau, Renaud Capuçon, Julien Chauvin, Oliver Charlier, Marina Chiche, Guillaume Chilemme, Nicolas Dautricourt, Stephanie-Marie Degand, Augustin Dumay, Amanda Favier, Ami Flammer, Pierre Fouchenneret, Sylvie Gazeau, Raphaëlle Moreau, David Moreau, Liya Petrova, Guillaume Sutre, Diana Tishchenko ; Trompettistes David Guerrier, Lucienne Renaudin Vary ; Violoncellistes Adrien Bellom, Emmanuelle Bertrand, Gautier Capuçon, Yvan Chiffoleau, Marc Coppey, Henri Demarquette, Anne Gastinel, Gary Hofmann, Christian-Pierre La Marca, Victor-Julien Laferrière, Alain Meunier, Edgar Moreau, Christophe Morin, Philippe Muller, Aurélien Pascal, Jérôme Pernoo, Astrid Siranossian, Camille Thomas ; Réalisateur Bruno Monsaingeon


  • debuschubertussy says:

    So what exactly defines a “freelance” artist?

    • John Borstlap says:

      A musician who is free from the intimidating oppression by the management and holds a lance in his right hand (the expression stems from a Wagner opera production in 1924 at the Royal Opera House).

  • engineers_unite says:

    “mysterious and dreaded second wave” is a no better than very bad media hype.

    There is not the slightest scientific basis for this nonsense.

    Watch Dr Erckison spell it out for you.

    Confining perfectly fit people WEAKENS their immune system.

    Now go look at Neil Ferguson’ failed predictions for every single “pandemic” which never happened, never mind the ‘ice free” arctic, the BSE that would kill millions, and the bird flu that would murder us from the sky.

    which do you believe? Make up your mind yourself.

    France’s confinement strategy totally failed, and now has put the economy not into a recession but an ECONOMIC DEPRESSION, with the bankrupt airlines and even major companies like Airbus and huge employer facing bankrupcy.

    Chicken little.
    Instead of “The sky is falling”, go out, get sun, be healthy, do sport, make love, and make music.

    Forget the failed predictions of failed politicians.

    • John Borstlap says:

      With all due respect, but this is a remarkably insane comment.

      • engineers_unite says:

        NO, the insane ones are out of the asylum screwing up the country.
        The damage is entirely self inflicted, bordering in many cases on criminal negligence.

        Life was already difficult before some lunatics put the entire country under house arrest, deciding to put us all of work, then giving money ONLY to those who already had plenty (banks routinely refused to lend to people who had neither savings nor a very socalled viable lifestyle).

        Who were those entities we bailed out in 2009? eh?

        Who then went on a ripoff spree to make as much money as they scam off a many people as they could con at high interest rates.. the SAME PEOPLE.
        THE BANKS.

        Musicians & artists fit perfectly into the category banks refuse to help, even when loans are 100% government backed.
        At 80% they absolutely refuse 90% of loans…

        It’s the first time in history humanity which has survived the plague, cholera, malaria, typhus, and more has had FIT people locked up.

        Let’s look at Ferguson’s pathetic track record in predicting mayhem and mass deaths…

        “Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College London epidemiologist a….predictions that the Wuhan flu would kill more than two million people in the United States and half a million in the UK.”

        Bird Flu: Ferguson predicted up to 200 million deaths worldwide. So far 455 people have died.

        Mad Cow Disease: Ferguson predicted up to 150,000 deaths. So far 178 people have died.

        “Ferguson’s predictions for coronavirus have been as bad.

        His initial prediction of 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. is going to be so wrong that every politician and individual that cited it to justify the Wuhan panic should be made to apologize, publicly.

        As COVID-19 numbers have come in, Ferguson downgraded his predictions, lowering his UK prediction from 500,000 to only 20,000”,

        OF WHICH 1/3 of deaths were an abject failure to protect nurses and doctors, and then the old people’s homes…

        Let’s get out facts straight shall we?
        Bail out big business, make dividends paid out on the stock market.

        Screw the musicians, who needs them anyhow?

        • BP says:

          A blog might be the outlet best suited for you.

          • Barry Guerrero says:

            I always wonder if these Darwinists would go on the same way, if and when someone they loved dearly died of Covid. Would they sing the same tune? Now these inverse logic people are saying that a lot of deaths are not a lot deaths. What constitutes a lot of deaths to them? They won’t be happy until it reaches 1919 proportions? Until then, it’s just a farce? Go tell someone who lost a family member that it’s all just a farce. Tell it to their face, not to your typewriter. I’d like to see that.

          • John Borstlap says:


            By the way, Darwin himself was utterly devastated by the death of his teenage daughter from tbc. He was quite negative about the workings of Nature and did not know what to say about religion, which is supposed to offer some consolation.

        • NYMike says:

          And screw you – who needs you anyhow??

          • engineers_unite says:

            Exactly you got it between your 2 ears.
            Everyone is dispensable, some more dispensable than others.
            You just proved it.

            Some, simply want to get a Darwin award on the way.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I never believed in evolution, because it says that after millions of years it produces something like my aunt Virginie.


    • Saxon Broken says:

      Huh? The claim that confining healthy people in the lockdown weakens their immune system is just bizarre.

      Epidemiologists came up with a number of scenarios for COVID-19. If it had behaved like the Spanish flu and there had been no lockdown some of the worst predictions would have come true.

      Now we know a bit more, we know that it is much less dangerous than the Spanish flu, and the health system in western Europe is no longer threatened with collapse. This means the lockdown can be gradually relaxed there (some restrictions will nevertheless need to remain, at least for a while longer).

  • Pierre says:

    While I have tremendous respect for artists and understand the stress of dealing with the unknowns of their profession going forward and agree that governments should intervene and propose solutions, I would caution any reader here on how to interpret this matter when it pertains to France.

    As any person who follows the news and has any understanding of France knows, France is a country, through outdated and archaic social policies and attitudes, has completely “infantilised” its population over the years, turning its citizens into extremely dependent, always complaining, whining and unhappy people. Most French are incapable of taking any sort of personal initiative or risk to solve their problems or develop ideas and almost ALWAYS turn to “Mommy”, better known as the “State” to resolve their issues. When that doesn’t work, or “Mommy” doesn’t give them what they want, like children, they have a big tantrum and smash and burn “Mommy’s” belongings, and behave like nasty spoiled brats. “Mommy” then always cleans up the mess and gives her “children” something to keep them calm and quiet them down, but that usually doesn’t last long and the tantrums start again and again.

    Sorry, but that is the reality of France. The “yellow vests” are just one example of how the French respond to a real problem, always in the same archaic, outdated and not very intelligent way: strikes, demonstrations, violence, destruction of public and private property and it repeats ad infinitum, with no real results. It is a very sad spectacle to watch for any person familiar with more modern societies and how the individual knows that the State can not take care of every problem that come about. No, it is a balance between private initiative and public policy. In France, the private initiative has nearly been removed and the French are terrified of it and any personal risk.

    For creative professions, that kind of mentality is lethal to creativity and explains the very average level of the creative arts in France. Few really stand out and the few that do, nearly all leave the country and find great success abroad. Orchestras are good but never great. A Berlin Philharmonic, a Vienna Philharmonic, a Concertgebouw Orchestra, a Chicago Symphony, a Metropolitan Opera, a Julliard School of Music or a Curtis Institute of Music would never be able to exist in the French realm. Why? Because they are made up of individuals who count on themselves, trust in themselves and are able to work in harmony with others to achieve greatness. That notion can never be achieved in france and that is why one doesn’t find that level of orchestra or that level of music school in the country, but rather a very bureaucratic, very uncreative approach to the arts.

    So, we can expect the French Government to probably offer a salary or regular financial security to artists, to keep them calm and avoid yet another group throwing a tantrum. While this may keep them calm for a while, it will do nothing to stimulate artistic creation or original creativity. France, for its size and for all of its wonderful museums, artistic support and events, still remains rather provincial on the global music and creative arts scene, with few French based artists being truly global names and recognised outside of France as being something unique and special. There is a price for what France has done to the arts. It has created a great museum culture, but a very bureaucratic and often unoriginal artistic community.

    • BP says:

      The tried and tested anti-French screed. Always good to rely on some classics to find comfort in these trying times.

    • engineers_unite says:

      “The “yellow vests” are just one example of how the French respond to a real problem, … same archaic, outdated and not very intelligent way:

      strikes, demonstrations, violence, …No, it is a balance between private initiative and public policy.
      In France, the private initiative has nearly been removed and the French are terrified of it and any personal risk. ”

      “Most French are incapable of taking any sort of personal initiative or risk to solve their problems or develop ideas”

      This is utter bourgeous TOSH.
      do you ACTUALLY live and work in France???

      I do.
      Your remarks are really grossly insulting to a country I actually have a lot of respect for and has a far better lifestyle than the British ever will (ever wondered why so many British prefer to live in Dordogne???).

      Also France has a much healthier manufacturing sector than the British and many of their products are innovatory.
      Ever wondered who is building nuclear power stations in the UK?
      THE FRENCH, who’s nuclear electricity is powering your heating and boiling the kettle as you watch your 9pm news!

      I can assure you life at the BOTTOM of the social pile is a nightmare,epecially in those abandoned Banlieu, but the retired are often doing absolutely great thank you.

      Macretin being the banker’s friend he always was has piled on more and more sh..t on top, fuel duties, extra taxes fooling with all kinds of long term acquis sociaux, including the ultimate cretin idea, – to COMPLY the crapfest PARIS ACCORD on “climate change” when France thanks to it’s majority nuclear power had some of the lowest CO2 (as if that mattered) figures in the world.

      I know he inherited a load of trouble with that other cretin that came before him…Mr “let’s go snog with my lover on a moped at night” Hollande, and the previous wife cretina SEGOLENE-alternative-energy-Royale….

      The unfortunate fact of the matter much like Margaret aptly remarked decades ago… “socialism is a wonderful thing, it makes everyone feel good especially the elite at the top…spending other people’s money is fantastic until when it RUNS OUT”.
      Bliar – Teflon Tony & Gordon the one eyed Moron got us all there, but luckily the UK kept a lot of its orchestras…and then followed a decade of lean years/retrenchment to bring down the deficits

      Never to be outdone France proliferated absolutely unsustainable levels of summer festivals, until many of them instantly go bankrupt the moment there’s a downturn.

      France has been living beyond its means for decades.
      Now comes the day of reckoning and it’s not gonna be pretty.

      FYI, I have been involved in many summer festivals in France, so I might just know what I’m on about. Without them and the conservatoire teaching (also closed) french musicians can’t make ends meet.

    • William W. says:

      Very well and accurately said. The root problem is that France never really encouraged, among its own people, to master high-level artistic creative greatness, particularly in music, neither via its old-fashioned education system, nor in its civic life. Many big names flourished there in the past precisely because they had little competition from the locals, but many were aghast at how poor local music skills were and how rudely and inconsiderately they were treated by the French public. One who wrote often about the French lack of musical talent and lack of consideration for his abilities was Mozart himself. In a letter to his father sent from Paris, the 22 year old Mozart wrote:
      “These French idiots still think that I am 7 years old because they knew me at that age . . . I am treated like a beginner here in Paris, except by a few people, who think otherwise. -Wolfgang” (July 31, 1778)
      Outside of France Mozart was immediately recognised and respected for the genius that he was, but not in France.

      Not much has really changed since then and there is a definite tendency in France to ignore, degrade and not really foster and encourage local creative talent and often they even demean and discourage young students with talent to pursue their dreams. The negativity and lack of encouragement towards young musicians in France is overwhelming and I witnessed heartless and truly wicked teachers at the Paris Conservatoire degrade and humiliate their students during open masterclasses, something that I have never seen anywhere else. Something is most definitely wrong in that country.

      • John Borstlap says:

        My impression is that the trouble results from two sources: 1) a ‘revolutionary’ inheritance, i.e. when you have a problem, go into the street and get the guillotine from the barn; and 2) half a century of socialist government geared towards an extensive state bureaucracy, taking away individual initiative, and creating a ‘specialized political class’ with internal networks. Macron is the first president who tries to change that, and we see the level of resistance he is up to. He gets criticized for what former governments have done wrong.

        A conductor friend of mine told me that when working with a French orchestra, often the players chat during rehearsels and have to be instructed again and again to pay attention, like class of school children, something he never experiences with any other orchestra internationally. It is a cultural thing, prioritizing pleasure above serious work, and that is why people want to live in France.

        On the other hand, in my experience French orchestras get music right very quickly and with ‘Schwung’, but it is hard to get it really right ‘en détail’. German orchestras show the opposite: everything gets very right but often players have to be titilated to get ‘off the ground’. It is easy to criticize different ways of making music but generalizations have only a very restricted meaning.

        • engineers_unite says:

          “Macron is the first president who tries to change that, and we see the level of resistance he is up to.”

          Utter Rubbish!

          Macretin is the banker’s friend.
          Anyone who makes off with his school teacher then has to go to work in a bank has the maturity of a 5 yr old.
          “Mr universally-despised-JUPITER” needs to go back to class and learn police state brutality is not compatible with French traditions..neither is giving monster tax breaks to the most wealthy while impoverishing the little working people who have sweet zilch.

          Are you aware how many innocent people have been beaten senseless by the brutal French cops, and how many absolute innocent bystanders have lost eyes cos of their crappy crowd control (which has been roundly criticised by human rights organisations).

          This is no less than state sponsored violence.

          How can you come out with this crap when the Alexandre Benalla affair showed Macretin and his “granny wife” as being so blatantly corrupt & so fearful of their safety they had to get a total conman in to look after them poor darlings….

          Even Mittterand never scraped the bottom of the barrel as low as Macretin, and certainly never lynched people in open public view, despite being corrupt up to his eyeballs as well as being a turncoat from Vichy.

          • John Borstlap says:

            A comment, typical for angry, frustrated and populations. Makes me think of the french, who vote for their preferred canditate to be able to dreg him through the mud. Merely superficial, prejudiced and uninformed impressions, lacking context and background, and denying humanity to the people who try to govern the unruly bunch of Gauls. Macron is the best the french came-up with, and if given the chance, he may produce quite a number of results. If one follows the initiatives of his party, that is impressive, and shows building a new way of democracy and policy, which was much needed.

            As for his so-called ‘friend of the bankers’: a society needs money and bankers, and Macron wanted to include them into the reform plans to prevent them from investing outside France which was draining the country of resources. This was the result of decennia socialist governments.

            As for his ideas, his Aachen speech is instructive:


          • engineers_unite says:

            “Macron is the best the french came-up with”, yes like that lying b.t.rd” BOJO is the best the UK could come up with?

            It’s clear from your comments you are just another “Bourgie” following the “orthodoxy” spouted by the establishment.
            That kinda makes me want to spew up!

            You obviously possess very little knowledge of France, its culture, its industrial base and the fact that nasty creep Macretin is doing the bidding of his de-industrialising, globalising banking mates who believe in Agenda 21 and wants to destroy small businesses all over France.

            He has now succeeded in that beyond the wildest dreams of those fantasist blowing their “climate emergency” crapfest, even promising like his lunatic predecessor to shut down HALF of the only asset France really has,-

            It’s 70% nuclear electricity generation.

            Btw I WORK daily in France with small businesses & in the professional audio industry.

            Things have never been in such a desperate mess since the worst days of Mitterand.

            It’s such a shame, France is fundamentally wealthy but the entire working population has been kidnapped to contribute to an entirely dystopian present and future.

            Probably the only way for French musicians to escape absolute poverty is to emigrate to Australia and NZ en Masse….

  • Vienna1907 says:

    “We are not used to expressing ourselves in words. Our language is that of notes, phrasing, articulations, bowings…”

    This clichéd imagery of the musician-as-savant, which so many of my fellow-musicians reflexively deploy as a sort of “humble-brag”, has long passed its expiration date. Being unable to articulate one’s views on the most important issues of the day is hardly a virtue. And given that most musicians are actually reasonably well-informed citizens, this pretense that we’re not is bizarre.

    • John Borstlap says:

      ‘Bête comme un musicien’ is an old French expression, not an English or German or Italian one.

      • Edgar says:

        Ouch! what an expression. I take it that it says as much about musicians as about those who direct themselves in this way toward musicians?

  • Mariecott says:

    This is not for us at all and if you’re asking the state for help, you are finished!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Significantly, the letter’s signatories are led by David Fray, the excellent pianist who is Riccardo Muti’s son-in-law and I hope has other resources.