La Folle Journée

La Folle Journée
La Folle Journée is an annual classical music festival held in the city of Nantes, France. Its name refers to Pierre Beaumarchais’s play The Marriage of Figaro, whose alternative title is La Folle Journée (“The Mad Day”). The festival is the largest event of its kind in France.

La Folle Journée was founded in 1995 by the classical music connoisseur and artistic director René Martin. He intended to popularize classical music among a wide and diverse audience through a series of short concerts held during one day. La Folle Journée was designed as a unique event that would radically change the image of classical concerts, opening up the world of classical music to a broad audience.

The inaugural festival was a success, so Martin decided to make it an annual affair. Originally held over a weekend, it has expanded to cover five days of classical music concerts and other music-related events. The growing success of the festival can be explained by the quality of the program prepared by René Martin who still serves as the festival’s artistic director.

La Folle Journée is known for its unique format. Each concert lasts no more than 45 minutes so that audiences which are not used to classical music don’t get bored. This approach allows to overcome the prejudice surrounding classical music without deforming its values.

The festival hosts over 270 concerts featuring about 1,800 musicians from around the world. It caters to both seasoned music lovers and newcomers, respecting each individual’s experience, capability to concentrate and listen, and expectations. Each edition of the festival focuses on a theme. For example, the first two editions were devoted to Mozart and Beethoven, respectively. However, the theme doesn’t necessarily have to be linked to a particular composer. For example, La Folle Journée 2017 was dedicated to dance and its influence on classical music.

The La Folle Journée festival is held in Nantes every winter, but its team also organizes regular classical music concerts in other cities in the Pays de la Loire region. Some cities have founded their own festivals based on La Folle Journée’s unique format, including Warsaw, Bilbao, Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro.

La Folle Journée

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