French musicians attack bank for funding stars

French musicians attack bank for funding stars


norman lebrecht

July 09, 2021

Six French musicians who were advising the Musical Mécénat of the Société Générale bank have published an open letter attacking the bank for putting its money into big-star tours, not grassroots nurture.

They are particularly incensed by the bank’s support for a dubious, high-fee tour last summer by the cellist Gautier Capucon:

We are six musicians and expert professionals who have contributed voluntarily, for more than twenty years for some, to define the policy of Musical Mécénat Société Générale (MMSG), association law 1901 created in 1985 by Société Générale and Sogenal to support so-called “classical” music outside of any entrepreneurial influence. We are sitting, for a few more days, on the Board of Directors: Alain Meunier (president), Gilbert Amy, Claire Désert, Marie Hédin-Christophe, Francis Maréchal and Jean-François Zygel.

For thirty-five years, the Mécénat Musical Société Générale association, in accordance with its statutes, has been working thanks to funding from the bank to discover young talents, to support independent musical groups, for a real musical presence in all backgrounds. The musical aesthetics supported are therefore very varied: from medieval music to contemporary creation, including everything that can help to explore, enrich and make known the different repertoires. The association is of course attentive to the territorial balance of the projects selected, and projects with a strong social impact, justified by long-term work, are also supported.

But times are changing. A mix of genres between communication and sponsorship first alerted us last year. The highly publicized and contested “summer solidarity tour” by cellist Gautier Capuçon was promoted in all directions by the bank’s communication department, announcing that the patronage of Société Générale “presented” this tour, without the agreement of the administrators that we are. We were faced with a fait accompli.



  • Albert (French Historian) says:

    While I think that I understand what this group of advisors to the Société Générale ‘Musical Mécénat’ are trying to say, this is, sadly, and yet again, a very typically silly and absurd French story that would make no sense in more collaborative cultures where people maintain and show professional and human respect towards others and disagreements are usually resolved internally, instead of always ending up with a public conflict, as is the usual case in France.

    The French way of managing business, culture, politics and simple human or civil relations is nearly always based on confrontation, often violent, both physical and verbal and in the end little if anything is ever achieved. This is not the sign of a sophisticated nor a refined society, even though the French would tell you the exact opposite. Constant arguing, shouting, insults, constant internal strife and conflict, constant long written diatribes against other collaborators and going on endless strikes are France’s speciality and what has made it a place to be professionally avoided.

    Fortunately for the world, other cultures do not live in a permanent state of conflict and outrage. Other cultures do not live in a permanent state of social tension, with strikes and violent protests a permanent part of daily life. Other cultures also don’t consume the highest quantities of psychotropic drugs in the world to calm down the frayed nerves and anxious inhabitants, all victims of this underdeveloped culture of communication. It all comes down to respect of others and finding common ground. Respect of others, respect for their opinions, for their differences is what makes a society successful and capable of resolving conflicts and developing. The French think that because they say ‘bonjour’ and still call people ‘Madame’ and ‘Monsieur’ that their culture shows the highest respect towards others! That is all a facade and of no social value whatsoever. Watch any “debate” on French television and you will be shocked and horrified by the lack of manners and lack of respect towards others, with people shouting over each other, never listening to what the other person has to say, never acknowledging that the other may have an idea or opinion of value, but instead demolishing everything and anybody who crosses in front of them. This is the most primitive human communication that one can witness. It is no wonder then that we have here, yet again, another French drama, of one group against another, unable to resolve their problems together and requiring them to write public letters denouncing and insulting the very people that they should be working together with. Nothing new here. It is daily life in France. It is so pathetic and so uncivilised and primitive.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Certainly agree concerning radio and TV debates, which are often just cacaphonic and supremely frustrating.

    • Ashu says:

      [Fortunately for the world, other cultures do not live in a permanent state of conflict and outrage.]

      Travel a bit.

  • LVMH et al says:

    And you are worried about little niche acts like Société Générale or Credit Agricole?

    Gautier and Renaud, are the big con job, pushed along of course by LVMH Radio Classique, Laurence Ferrari, runs a program there, (married to Renaud of course) Gautier and the whole clan of “elite” at the top.

    Ever wondered why it’s now an international disease?
    LVMH the primary sponsor of Colmar Festival?
    Musical director is guess who?
    All rotten from the top down, and a decades old disease, which is typical of France today.

    • Piano Lover says:

      I cannot agree more.
      When travelling around a country(namely France) saying everywhere that “THIS IS FOR THE MUSIC” …when family is in a hotel,….music comes way behind I guess!!

  • Dirk says:

    It should be becoming clear to classical musicians in these times that they need to remember something.
    ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’