Audience boos as musicians protect their pensions

Audience boos as musicians protect their pensions


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2023

Before last night’s concert in Lille, an orchestra musicians read out a union statement about President Macron’s plans to postpone the pension age in France by two more years. The audience hooted and booed. One person shouted ‘Musique!’, meaning – get on with it.



  • PS says:

    They could save money by not paying union dues.

    • soavemusica says:

      Actually, the issue, apparently, is that the Government used “special privileges” of the Constitution, so the law was passed without voting by the Parliament. (!)

      What kind of a Constitution is that? Wasn`t there a revolution in France?

      Macron is currently called “Jupiter” in France, as the garbage keeps on piling up in Paris.

      My favourite news was about a lady, who does protest this, but confessed she had voted Macron. Why, oh why? Because she could not stand Le Pen…

      That is the voter`s tragedy, right there.

      • Norabide Guziak says:

        Macron is currently called “Jupiter” in France, as the garbage keeps on piling up in Paris.

        That’s Anne Hidalgo’s department. She’s doing it on purpose in solidarity with the striking dustmen. Yes, those who have nothing to fear as they’re civil servants. Try finding a self-employed electrician in the demonstrations; good luck…

  • Des says:

    Hunt’s Pension Life time allowance deal will solve the £300bn black hole left by Truss, as GPs £100k + folk etc will stuff their pension funds who will buy up Gilts.

  • Gerald says:

    France is, once again, living in a parallel universe. Debating increasing the age of retirement by two years is fine, but the French NEVER debate anything, they just like to hear themselves talking, never listen to others, insult each other and ultimately, as always, become violent and ransack and burn their cities. Not really the sign of an intelligent, educated and modern society.
    Besides that, even if they would increase their retirement age to 64, they still would be well below the world average for retirement found in other countries. They think that they are exceptional, when they simply are not.
    I think that the French would do well to expend as much energy as they do demonstrating for every little reform that is attempted and instead use all of their pent up anger and generalised unhappiness and focus on improving their society. They really should be demonstrating about:
    – their outdated education system having, such low international scores in maths, sciences and foreign languages, making the French less competitive internationally. (I know, the French don’t like competition and aren’t interested in globalisation and being prepared for the future, but their poor results in general education are more of a threat to their prosperity than adding two years to their retirement)
    – the fact that they pay some of the highest taxes in the entire OECD and have little to show for it. They pay five-star taxes and receive two-star services in education, urban cleaning and repairs and a declining and worn-out health service. (Instead of demonstrating asking why they pay such high taxes and have worse education, worse health services and MUCH dirtier cities than all the others who pay lower taxes…instead many French want to increase their taxes even more, thinking that this will solve their many problems. (Yes, the French hate wealth, fear success and any rich and successful person is despised by the majority of French, so they collectively prefer a society where mediocrity rules and everyone takes no personal responsibility and can blame the State and riot and burn down the cities when they are not happy)
    France is infantile and needs to grow up fast. The world has moved on and yet again watching them expressing their “anger” in ways better suited to the 18th century starts to get very boring and pathetic.

    • Ich bin Ereignis says:

      Did you even bother to look up the details of the reform before engaging in your angry and hateful rant?

      There is enough money in the system. They want to push the reform because Macron wants to lower the percentage spent in pensions compared to overall GDP, as well as eliminate a tax on corporations called CVAE to the tune of 18 billion Euros a year, which workers are now kindly being asked to make up for by working for an additional couple of years.

      Whereas in many countries such measures may have been simply accepted by a gullible and docile citizenry, they have not duped France’s intelligent and educated population, despite your uninformed and prejudiced claims to the contrary.

      • PG Vienna says:

        No there is not enough money in the system. Stop providing false information

      • Tim says:

        The firm conviction that money grows on trees is neither intelligent nor educated, despite your delusional claims to the contrary. And regardless, those concertgoers paid for a musical performance, not a political speech, so I’m glad they let the speaker have it.

    • PG Vienna says:

      I am French and I completely agree with your comment

    • Freewheeler says:

      The French would riot if they changed the font style on the packet of Gauloises.

    • Helen Harwood says:

      “France is INFANTILE” sums up the country perfectly. It is a ridiculous and absurd place, with an extremely uneducated general population, an isolated, uniformly educated and arrogant elite, an unfriendly country with bad manners and rude habits, provincial and narrow-minded. With the changing world that we are entering, they are doomed and will be the first major country to collapse. They brought this upon themselves, living in an illusion for decades and refusing change, refusing to learn languages, refusing to engage and learn from other people and thinking that they are superior, when the reality could not be further from that.

      • Franz1975 says:

        Well, they pay lots of taxes to pay for the social benefits of North African Immigrants (and second generation french citizens of North Africa origin) who do not work. The same ones who do not feel themselves french (and part of them want to instaure the Shari’a in Europe).

    • Norabide Guziak says:

      @Gerald; The true villain of the piece is, surprise surprise, François Mitterand, who lowered the retirement age from 65 to 60 in order, er ‘share out the work’ in order to get the young into employment earlier. It failed dismally, as did everything he did. Trying to reverse the trend since has been a positively sisyphian task for every president ever since.

      France’s debt as percentage of GNP was 17% when he took power in 1981. When he left power it was 56.1%. Many left-leaning French, unthinkingly seduced by his lies, still think he was the best president ever. He was a great fan of Pétain, laid a wreath on his grave every year and decided to make his political career on the left as VGD etc had the right sewn up. Others have been dismissed as personae non grata for much less, but the Mitterand myth and his appalling record of social and economic destruction is still largely unchallenged.

  • Dimitri Vassilakis says:

    French voters chose to re-elect Président Macron , which means they were satisfied by his rule … they seem to wake up a bit too late, I am afraid…

  • Dennis says:

    They obviously felt they didn’t pay lots of Euros to hear a musician talk about pensions and politics. What an entitled audience!

  • MMcGrath says:

    Ah, yes, French union interventions in opera and concert in front of live audiences. Been going on forever. Performances cancelled. Delayed. Operas were done short-notice without sets and costumes quite often at the Opera in the 70s – with leaflets fluttering down from the ceiling.

    This time let them suck it up, think beyond themselves, and join the real world with retirement pensions that pay-out at 64 (with a million exceptions, bien sur).

  • Larry W says:

    Listen to the whole clip. (You too, Norman.) At the end, most of the audience applauded in agreement.

  • Martin Leahy says:

    I admire the French citizens for protesting and resisting a unilateral decision taken by THEIR President, (Macron is a servant of the people after all!) which profoundly and adversely affects their lives .I admire the fact that they will NOT just roll over and play dead or comatose ,like the majority of British People who seem to LOVE incompetent, corrupt,self serving,liars, continuously taking the pi**, undermining the economy,widening the wealth gap , and treating asylum seekers with cruelty and contempt in opposition to international human rights law.It seems to me that French Society is resisting the populist regression” of countries like the UK, and the USA and are rightly furious about the presumptuous , offensive and dangerous, “I alone know what’s best for the masses” attitude coming from Macron .They refuse to be patronised and marginalised .I’ve no doubt that they are very aware of the potential risks to their OWN children’s future financial security and well being , and probably view the current retirement age as something to protect for their children and grand children; a more holistic , intelligent approach as opposed to caving in to disingenuous “guilt- tripping” and alarmist tactics .Just because everybody else is being led by the nose down a path of delaying the retirement age closer and closer to 70, doesn’t automatically mean it benefits all working people. For instance the narrative and propaganda that’s foisted upon people is the notion that “work” in and of itself is somehow beneficial, almost therapeutic!! ,PLEASE SPARE ME THE FLANNELLING AND GASLIGHTING!!!.The vast majority of workers do jobs that they tolerate at the least and detest in many many instances; I very much doubt that many essential labourers in refuse disposal, road maintenance, and sanitation, relish the thought of “slaving away” into their mid sixties, and it’s these workers rights , and hard won meagre priviledges that should be the template for any “retirement model”. Governments out of respect and deference to such key essential workers whose often invisible labour keeps the lived environment safe and disease free,should be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time, by facilitating those in society who wish to extend their careers into whatever age they wish to do so, without virtue signalling and projecting their unique personal good fortune in health, vitality, well being and job satisfaction as some kind of innate “norm” easily attained by the rest of society at large. What is deeply depressingly backward is this British Government’s cruelty towards disabled people,nurses,junior doctors,public transport workers,cleaners, and refugees and perhaps this is what has the French citizens so incensed,as they witness President Macron try to pull a fast (TJTS) Thatcher,/Johnson,/Truss,/Sunak, move on them.Instead maybe they reckon that unlike the Brexit Myopic Ostrich Dumb Riches so enjoyed by the British, they choose to go back to the future of a revolutionary 18th century, and their Republican Origin Story as a potent reminder to those who THEY HAVE ENDOWED with the power to Govern not to ride rough shod over them. Depressingly as things stand in this constituency it’s not inconceivable that in the foreseeable future that the”net of undesirables” will be cast wider to include civil protesters,”unemployables”, “Corbynistas”, and “How Very Dare You Speak Out Of Turn Football Pundits” who jeopardize heads of hilariously tragic phoney impartial broadcasting corporations from recouping the massive loans they’ve made to erstwhile compulsive lying Prime Ministers,loans very probably contingent on their appointment in the first place;NOW THAT’S GREAT BRITISH BACKWARDNESS AT IT’S BEST!!!

    • Barry says:



      A short part of a text, consisting of at least one sentence and beginning on a new line. It usually deals with a single event, description, idea, etc.

    • Norabide Guziak says:

      Freedom for Tooting…

  • Rebecca says:

    Sounds like San Francisco, where Principals are paid $350K and whine they can’t buy a house. Third-highest paid orchestra in the US thinks they should be paid more. If they were in the top 5 US symphonies — maybe. But they’re not.

  • John Ebert says:

    Musicians, too, deserve to age and grow old : WITH
    a decent pension to enjoy the winter of their life.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Irresponsible states need to raise taxes and retirement ages in order to be able to give away more money or to pay for quixotesque measures to “save the planet”. On the other hand, the French retire too early.

  • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

    So what? In Lyon, they cancelled whole performances. If you can’t bear to listen to some generic lament for two minutes, how on earth can you listen to the Tristan duet, let alone modern music?

    • Ich bin Ereignis says:


      I’d rather listen to “generic lament” than to most music written after 1960…