Musicians rage against star cellist’s free tour

Musicians rage against star cellist’s free tour


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2020

The national tour by Gautier Capucon – free to audiences but initially at high fees – has provoked a manifesto of outrage from a group of French fellow-musicians who fear that Capucon us exploiting his fame at their expense.

Here’s what they say:


Open letter to GAUTIER CAPUÇON

Mr. Capuçon, would you just be a liar?
Liar? Come on!

To support this hypothesis (because it’s just an assumption, of course), allow us to report some facts:

on May 25th, about your tour “A summer in France”, an article from the Parisian mentioned:

“I’ll just ask the municipalities for a little stamp – for the principle that every artist needs to be paid – and support for logistic costs, but it’s not an opportunistic and commercial operation”

On social media, the miserable plebs we are and who must settle for 100 € the 3-hour service, daring to ask (not out of malice, but out of curiosity) of the amount of this ” Little stamp “.

The answer came to him by an article from the musician’s letter on June 06 And for the whole profession, when these amounts of these “little pills” were published, it was a shock.
Because this is public money, from our taxes.

” € 2800 for cities with less than 3000 inhabitants, 4800 euros for cities between 3000 and 10 000, 7800 euros for cities between 10 000 and 60 000 inhabitants and 9800 euros for cities with more than 60 inhabitants. A stamp to add the accommodation costs for the artist and his family.”

In the face of what was seen as indecent requests during this time of crisis, you quickly turned back and announced no charge at all and even, supreme self-sacrifice, to take care of all your costs.

Ah, that’s a posture that makes you look like a saint!
Wonderful! What a great soul this man!

But, what a bad luck, it goes in absolute conflict with your statement at Le Figaro of May 27:

Because ” after all the free performances that musicians have been able to perform in the lockdown, it is important, symbolically, to remember that a musician must also touch something if he plays for an audience.”

Between asking for the amounts of public money you were asking for in the first place, and playing for free and at your expense, wasn’t there a fair place to find?

Would you reduce your salary claims to the same level as your colleagues, we would have you all
applauded with both hands.

Because it is there too, the solidarity that you are grateful for.

But by offering your services, in such a media “sacrificial” and suddenly selfless, you thought you had done an act of greatness and generosity when you were just looking for a very embarrassing situation.
No one can blame you for it, of course.

But first of all, you shot a bullet in the foot of an already damaged profession.
Because you’ve probably forgotten that we don’t have the means to display such a great “generosity” by offering to play for free.

What will stop, a municipality from now telling musicians who will try to get a little € 400 or € 500 for a recital.

” But Mr. Gautier Capuçon comes to play for free and you dare to ask for a stamp??? ”

Unfortunately, this is the precedent you just created!

So what do you want to say:

“I understand that some are disappointed but I regret this lack of solidarity between artists” seems to us, in these circumstances, somewhat wrong and even totally indecent.

But we have to forgive ourselves: for months, all our concerts, all our festivals are canceled, our stomachs are empty and we see evil everywhere.

But let’s come back to your statements: here you are at the microphone of Europe 1, on June 09th where you declare:

” These numbers are not pills, they are transfer contracts, it’s important to specify it.

“The information is absolutely wrong”

” An assignment contract is a contract that’s what costs the communities and therefore in this contract of assignment, there were several things, there are a fee, there were the pianist’s pills and mine… There you are, so they’re not pills “.

But Zounds, we are far, far from the modest ” participation in the stamp ” and ” support for logistic costs ” from the beginning. Because here is in your speech, the miraculous appearance of a “transfer contract” that includes the pianist’s pills (it’s new), yours and fees etc.

Don’t you know, recently, in the article of the 25th of May du Parisian that the stamp and the fees were two different accounts?
With such confusion, a cat would not find his little ones.

But here you are still on the set of “It’s yours” on June 10th, where we could even hear in your mouth:

” There was an amalgam, a bad understanding of things…”

Come on, Mr. Capuçon, we are wondering if your way of counting (and above all to redo history…) is not a bit capricious, not to say a little dishonest.

Or, full of bad luck, are your communication advisors who are to blame?

Let’s cut their heads off!

Now that you are going to cross France, be without fear for your expense. They will, we are deeply convinced, absolutely minimal. For it is likely that in front of your immense generosity, the municipalities that have hired you will offer you and your family the gite and covered among the elders of the believed. Or will they meet with the Relais et Château or 4 % hotels to send the invoice of your stay to their city hall.

Let us quote you again when you define your tour initiative in the veil of language elements that we dare to call it ” Smoky
“Very strong bond born during lockdown”
“Desire to share”
“Cultural Moose”
“Restart this culture dynamics this summer”

You even repeat you want to “offer this tour to the French”.
It’s beautiful and it almost sounds like De Gaulle!

But we know that your time is precious and the time has come to tell you without embages that many of us consider you either a hell of a Tartuffe or a liar. And some even, both.
What a rudeness!

And don’t worry about our irony, Mr. Capuçon: it will not prevent the Republic, grateful and moved to tears by your summer sacrifice, from recognize your immense deserve and your Legion of Honour will probably come shortly, adorn the back of your jacket and replace your badge where is registered a very vulgar “Seen on TV”

Signed: Cassandra Julien (PM Musicians in Anger)



Monsieur Capuçon, ne seriez-vous donc qu’un menteur ?
Menteur ? Allons bon !

Pour étayer cette hypothèse (car ça n’est qu’une hypothèse, bien sûr), permettez-nous de relater quelques faits :

le 25 Mai dernier, à propos de votre tournée « Un été en France », un article du Parisien vous citait :

« Je demanderai juste aux municipalités un petit cachet – pour le principe que tout artiste doit être rémunéré – et une aide pour les frais logistiques, mais ce n’est pas du tout une opération opportuniste et commerciale ”

Sur les réseaux sociaux, la misérable plèbe que nous sommes et qui doit se contenter de cachets de 100 € le service de 3 heures, a osé s’enquérir (non par malice, mais par simple curiosité) du montant de ce « petit cachet ».

La réponse lui est venue par un article de la Lettre du Musicien le 06 Juin. Et pour toute la profession, à la publication de ces montants de ces « petits cachets » fut un choc.
Car il s’agit là d’argent public, issu de nos impôts.

“2800 euros pour les villes de moins de 3000 habitants, 4800 euros pour les villes entre 3000 et 10 000 habitants, 7800 euros pour les villes entre 10 000 et 60 000 habitants et 9800 euros pour les villes de plus de 60 000 habitants. Un cachet auquel il faut rajouter les frais d’hébergement pour l’artiste et sa famille.”

Devant ce qui a été perçu comme des demandes indécentes en cette période de crise, vous avez bien promptement fait machine arrière et annoncé ne plus rien facturer du tout et même, abnégation suprême, de prendre en charge tous vos frais.

Ah que voilà une posture propre à vous faire passer pour un Saint !
Admirable ! Quelle grande âme que cet homme-là !

Mais, quelle malchance, elle va en contradiction absolue avec votre déclaration au Figaro du 27 Mai :

Parce qu’«après toutes les prestations gratuites que les musiciens ont pu réaliser dans le confinement, il est important, symboliquement, de rappeler qu’un musicien doit aussi toucher quelque chose s’il joue pour un public.»

Entre demander les sommes d’argent public que vous demandiez en premier lieu, et jouer gratuitement et à vos frais, n’y avait-il pas un juste milieu à trouver ?

Eussiez-vous réduit vos prétentions salariales au même niveau que vos collègues, nous vous aurions tous
applaudi des deux mains.

Car elle est là aussi, la solidarité dont vous vous prévalez.

Mais en offrant ainsi vos prestations, de manière si médiatiquement « sacrificielle » et soudainement désintéressée, vous pensiez avoir fait un acte de grandeur et de générosité alors que vous ne cherchiez, en toute logique, qu’à vous tirer d’une situation fort embarrassante.
Nul ne saurait vous en blâmer, cela va de soi.

Mais avant tout, vous avez tiré une balle dans le pied de toute une profession déjà sinistrée.

Car vous avez sans doute oublié que nous, nous n’avons pas les moyens d’afficher une si grande “générosité” en proposant de jouer gratuitement.

Qu’est-ce qui empêchera, une municipalité de dire à présent aux musiciens qui essaieront d’obtenir un petit cachet de 400 ou 500 € pour un récital.

« Mais M. Gautier Capuçon vient jouer gratuitement et vous, vous osez demander un cachet ??? »

Voilà, hélas, le précédent que vous venez de créer !

Alors, que vous osiez donc dire :

« Je comprends que certains soient déçus mais je regrette ce manque de solidarité entre artistes » nous paraît, dans ces circonstances, quelque peu mal venu et même totalement indécent.

Mais il faut nous pardonner : depuis des mois, tous nos concerts, tous nos festivals sont annulés, nos estomacs sont vides et nous voyons le mal partout.

Mais revenons-en, si vous le permettez, à vos déclarations : vous voici au micro d’Europe 1, le 09 Juin où vous déclarez :

« Ces chiffres ne sont pas des cachets, ce sont des contrats de cession, c’est important de le préciser.

« L’information est absolument fausse »

« Un contrat de cession c’est un contrat c’est ce qui coute aux collectivités et donc dans ce contrat de cession, il y avait plusieurs choses, il y a des frais, il y a avait les cachets du pianiste et le mien…voilà, ce ne sont donc pas des cachets ».

Mais Diantre, nous sommes loin, très loin même de la modeste « participation au cachet » et «une aide pour les frais logistiques » du début. Car voici donc dans votre discours, l’apparition miraculeuse d’un « contrat de cession » qui comprend les cachets du pianiste ( c’est nouveau), le vôtre et les frais etc.

N’affirmiez-vous pas, il y a peu, dans l’article du 25 Mai du Parisien que le cachet et les frais étaient deux postes comptables différents ?
Avec une telle confusion, un chat n’y retrouverait pas ses petits.

Mais vous voilà encore sur le plateau de « C’est à vous » le 10 Juin, où nous avons même pu entendre dans votre bouche :

“Il y a eu un amalgame, une mauvaise compréhension des choses…”

Allons, allons, Monsieur Capuçon, nous nous demandons si votre manière de compter (et surtout de refaire l’histoire …) n’est pas un peu fantasque, pour ne pas dire un petit peu malhonnête.

Ou alors, comble de malchance, sont-ce vos conseillers en communication qui sont à blâmer ?

Qu’on leur coupe la tête !

A présent que vous allez traverser la France, soyez sans crainte pour vos frais. Ils seront, nous en sommes intimement convaincus, absolument minimes. Car il est probable que devant votre immense générosité, les municipalités qui vous auront engagé vous offriront, à vous et votre famille, le gîte et couvert chez les notables du cru. Ou alors se démèneront-elles avec les Relais et Château ou hôtels 4 **** locaux pour qu’ils adressent la facture de votre séjour à leur mairie.

Permettez-nous encore de vous citer lorsque vous drapez votre initiative de tournée dans le voile d’éléments de langage que nous osons le qualifier de « fumeux » :
«Lien très fort né pendant le confinement »
« Désir de partage »
« Elan culturel »
« Relancer cette dynamique de culture cet été »

Vous répétez même vouloir « offrir cette tournée aux Français ».
C’est beau et cela sonne presque comme du De Gaulle !

Mais nous savons que votre temps est précieux et l’heure est venue de vous dire sans embages que nombre d’entre nous vous considèrent soit comme un sacré Tartuffe soit comme un fieffé menteur. Et certains même, les deux.
Quelle insolence !

Et ne vous offusquez pas pour autant de notre ironie, M. Capuçon : elle n’empêchera pas la République, reconnaissante et émue jusqu’aux larmes par votre sacrifice estival, de reconnaitre vos immenses mérites et votre Légion d’Honneur viendra probablement d’ici peu, orner le revers de votre veston et remplacer avantageusement votre badge où est inscrit un très vulgaire « Vu à la télévision »

Signé : Cassandre Julien (M.E.C Musiciens En Colère)


  • christopher storey says:

    Good for them ! Capucon is getting precisely what he deserves

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Stuff and nonsense.
      It’s a case in which bog-standard musicians who can’t hold a candle to the superb artistry of Gautier are displaying their jealousy and bile for all to read.
      And the French media is doubtless eating this merde up.

      • christopher storey says:


        • Greg Bottini says:

          Go hear Gautier Capuçon play sometime, Mr. “too lazy to reach for the shift key” storey, and then tell me it’s drivel.
          There’s a great Italian word for people like yourself which I will not write here. But consider yourself called that word.

  • E Rand says:

    ahhh! the intoxicating elixir of grievance culture and anonymity… Could anyone possibly care less about this? Didn’t think so! Have a beautiful day people, it’s a gift from God!

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    The “Musiciens En Colère” are quite pathetic. M Capucon did a noble climb-down from his early, high fees. It was nicely done but the M en C are still kicking him.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    It’s so long-winded, it’s hard to understand what point Cassandra Julien is actually making. I’d sooner hear Capucon than any of those non-entities any day !

  • Ines says:

    Indeed for free;
    Looks as if he’s one of the young smart bussinesmen around

  • Fiddlist says:

    Is France returning to ways of The Vengeance? That’s really all I could get out of that interminably rambling letter.

  • Harold says:

    Thanks for the French which made sense. The English was unreadable.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I thought the franglais was quite charming, like a scene from Louis de Funes, angrily trying to liberate himself from a wolf trap.

    • John Rook says:

      Absolutely. The English must have been Google Translate on drugs, particularly the choice of ‘pill’ as the translation of ‘cachet’ (Yes, I know it also means ‘pill’, but that’s the point).

      There’s nothing worse than literal translations.

  • Mike says:

    He deserved it.

  • Francophile from Denmark says:

    This whole story, from Mr. Capucon’s actions, to the ridiculously long diatribe written to him in protest, all of it is a typical manifestation of French “life” in a nutshell, a society that still remains locked in some weird mix of Louis XIV’s court at Versailles, the sinister complicity of the French nation in helping the Nazi occupiers by denouncing their colleagues, friends and family and their outdated current social attitudes of creating some socialist/communist utopia where all have the same results and a place where a successful person is despised and hated. If that successful person also has money and that is known, it is even worse, for the French hate nothing more than one of their own being successful and managing better in a crisis. No, for them it is better that everyone is poor, miserable and waiting for their handout.

    Jealousy, intrigue, back stabbing, political connections, political favours, denouncing others in writing, all of these terrible traits are the hallmarks of the French character, so none of this story comes as any surprise to me.

    For any French person reading this and instantly wanting to dismiss it and give it a negative opinion, I ask you to first read French history and particularly your history of collaboration during WW2. No nation that was under German occupation collaborated with more zeal, so much so that the Nazis often had to ask the French people to stop sending in so many letters denouncing their neighbours, “friends”, colleagues and even their own family members. In the world of music at the time, if a musician succeeded in getting a few concert engagements at a time when it was difficult to perform, his fellow “colleagues” would write anonymous letters to the Gestapo denouncing them for hiding Jews, insulting Hitler and other made-up nonsense in order to destroy them and in some cases have them killed. No other occupied nation behaved like that towards one another, except perhaps Hungary.

    So, when I read these sorts of stories coming from France, of colleagues denouncing another colleague because he organised and negotiated concerts and received money from the cultural budgets of the towns and cities during a difficult time, I must think about the French character of hating anyone and anybody who succeeds and take their comments with a very big grain of salt.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Tant de bruit pour une ommelette!

    • Musiciens en colère says:

      All your comments on the nazis, the anonymity, the gestapo are completely totally absurd and irrelevant.

      As are your interpretation of, quote of ” Jealousy, intrigue, back stabbing, political connections, political favours, denouncing others in writing, all of these terrible traits are the hallmarks of the French character, so none of this story comes as any surprise to me”.

      Here is why we had to write under a pseudonym :

      In order to publish this “lettre ouverte à Gautier Capuçon”, we created a fake Facebook page.

      In five days, we gathered almost 1.100 ” friends” and many of these “friends” shared the letter.

      Every time we published that letter on Gautier Capuçon’s page, it stayed online for 2 minutes before it was deleted.

      The 5th day, without any warning and without any explanation, our page was abruptly “disconnected” by FB.

      Without being particularly paranoid, it is difficult not to imagine that Gautier Capuçon pulled some strings and managed to get our FB page blocked.

      Believe us, this man knows people, including the most powerful and influent men in France.

      This proves that we were right to act anonymously : had we used our real names to publish our letter, who knows if our kneecaps would still be intact today.

  • mary says:

    What divides the world is class.

    it’s not nationality, it’s not profession, it’s not culture.


    The 1% — whether in industry or in the arts — possesses 99% of the wealth, and it cannot be justified by talent alone. Mr. Gautier’s entire education was entirely financed by publicly funded education.

    And in times of crises, that disproportionate command of wealth is even more amplified, hard as it may be to believe.

    The state has a responsibility to distribute that wealth (afterall, it’s our tax payer money) equitably among all musicians.

    • Red Flag says:

      You say, “The state has a responsibility to distribute that wealth equitably among all musicians.” So, the quality of the concert and reputation and attraction of the artist doesn’t matter to you? Why don’t you say the same thing about state run universities and schools. Some students get in and some don’t, some graduate and some don’t. Should we ask for the money back from those who decide that they weren’t able or didn’t want to finish their degree programme? “afterall, it’s our taxpayer money.”

      I don’t know where in the world you live, but when I read what you write, you most definitely should move to France, probably the only place in the world, outside of North Korea, where your idea of mass mediocrity and organising little mediocre concerts with inexperienced musicians would be met with nods of approval by those in power and most of the provincial population.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      The dead hand of socialism. And you’re wrong; there’s just about no class around these days at all.

    • John Rook says:

      The state has a responsibility to distribute that wealth (afterall, it’s our tax payer money) equitably among all musicians.

      Even to those who don’t deserve it?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “What mighty contests rise from trivial things” (Pope).

  • engineers_unite says:

    What a load of old bollocks!
    Endless verbiage no doubt on both sides.

    Who cares if they get paid whatever crap pay for whatever crap concerts either of them give.
    I would rather pay to hear decent musicians any day of the week.

    This evening dedicated to Szymon Goldberg on radio classique Paris, – wow what a difference compared with those endless symbols of mediocrity the Capucons.

  • Karl (Marx) says:

    Famous people get paid more. Is that their beef? We can solve that with more socialism, can’t we?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Real socialism would protect and support the arts to make them accessible to all people with an inclination. Fake socialism would try to get rid of them because they undermine the idea of equality.

  • Henry williams says:

    The french are not all bad. They had many heroes in the resistance who perished.
    Example jean moulin.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There seems to be evidence that even in the 18th century there were some good french people. (That was before 1789.)

  • Paul Carlile says:

    What wonderful Franglais! From this i learn that the hapless Gautier (or Walter Hoodc**t), has to swallow bitter little pills instead of a stamp! I think Gurggle Trashlate has truly shot a bullet in the foot of its cultural moose!

    However, i almost feel sorry for Mr Capucon, (cédille omise exprès!), having to stay in 4% hotels and be covered among the elders of the believed…..(qui aurait cru…?). A bitter Pill indeed, this practice should be Stamped out!

  • Ludwig van Diemensland says:

    Could someone explain to me what a “Cultural Moose” is?

  • Anonymoose says:

    Perhaps ‘elan’ suggested ‘eland’ which suggested ‘moose’?