First World Music Day

The first World Music Day, also known as Fête de la Musique, was celebrated on June 21, 1982. This initiative was started by the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, and was designed to promote music as an artform that transcends boundaries and unites people from diverse backgrounds. 

Musical Unity: The Inception of World Music Day

Music has played a significant part in most of our lives, whether we are happy, sad, enjoying ourselves with friends, or even sitting alone. It helped us to feel happy and celebrate, and, just like any other art form, music has the power to break through different language and cultural barriers.

To honor, celebrate, and observe the beauty and talent of musicians and singers worldwide, the world music festival is celebrated on June 21. It also brings together people of different cultures, races, and nationalities through music. This day was first celebrated in 1982 in France, known as Fête de la Musique. This festival has gained popularity worldwide since it was celebrated first time. Singers, musicians, and artists perform live for their fans to celebrate this day.

Let’s dig deeper into the history of Fête de la Musique.

The History

Music has existed for a long time, and every culture worldwide has its form of music, which is different and unique to its area. Ironically the idea for the music festival was believed to be conceived in 1970. The American musician Joel Cohen worked for Radio France, the French national radio station. He was a producer, and he put forward an idea to organize “Saturnalia of Music.” It will be a way to celebrate both winter and summer solstice. Several years later, in 1982, Jack Lang, the Minister of Culture in France, implemented this idea. Let’s find out how?

Origin Of Fête de la Musique

Back in 1982, in France, Fête de la Musique, a music festival, was started, which is believed to be the origin of World Music Day. Jack Lang, a French politician, and Maurice Fleuret, a composer, arts administrator, radio producer, and music journalist, started this festival. Jack Lang asked Maurice Fleuret to become the Director of Music and Dance at the French Ministry of Culture.

After becoming the director, Maurice extensively researched on music evolution and practice. After his research, he also investigated the French population. He discovered that one out of every two individuals was interested in learning to play musical instruments. This inspired him, and he marked the Summer Solstice as World Music Day. He wanted to recognize people’s interests in music to recognize the people and their interests.

He aimed to get people out of their homes, enjoy the songs, play instruments, etc. That is why he designated June 21 as World Music Day. After the festival was celebrated, other countries also adopted this annual concert.

Jack Lang During First World Music Day
Jack Lang (L) During First World Music Day in France on 21 June 1982

In 1997, which is recognized as the European Festival of Music, a chart was signed in Budapest. After that, 21 June got international recognition as a World Music Day. A postage stamp was introduced and dedicated in 1998 to celebrate this day.

Soon after, several countries, the United States, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Japan, India, China, Italy, Malaysia, Greece, Canada, Ecuador, and Mexico, recognized this day.

What Is The Theme of World Music Day?

The annual theme for World Music Day is “Music at the Intersections”.  The aim of this theme is to recognize the role that music plays in bringing people of different cultures together. This year, the theme of this festival was “Music on the Intersections.” Also, one interesting fact: in 2021, this international festival was named “Make Music Day”. The goal was to highlight the importance that music has and how it inspires and encourages people.

Purpose Of Fête de la Musique

Regarding popularity, around 120 countries participate, and around one thousand cities participate in this festival around the world. World Music Day’s primary purpose is to promote professional and beginner musicians and give them a day where they are free to perform in the streets, have concerts, etc.

Also, around the world, to celebrate this day, free concerts and festivals are organized. This lets people have access to several musical genres. In Paris, according to the official Fête de la Musique organization, the concerts must be free for the public. Also, the performer must volunteer their services without payment.

World Music Day Celebrations
A file photo of a music group performing live in Argentina. | Photo Credit: AFP

However, there are some rules that have to be followed, such as noise reduction, and some establishments might have to take permission. This means that the French police can put restrictions on installing audio devices and speakers by people, organizations, or businesses.

Signing Off

Summing up, from the oldest musical instrument in the world, the 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute, to modern electronic instruments, songs have no boundaries, and it has become an integral part of our daily lives.

Over the past few years, world music day has gained huge popularity. The official Fête de la Musique organization in Paris advocates for free performances and concerts by artists. This festival inspires people via the language and power of music that brings people together regardless of their difference.


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