Famous French Musicians

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Music is not just a form of art but the ultimate food for the soul. It is also considered by many to be a great stress buster. It’s a popular belief that language is no barrier when it comes to music. While peppy tunes from the west have been welcomed by the eastern nations, folk music from continents such as Asia has managed to garner acclaim in the other parts of the world. France has produced many great musicians who have mesmerized their audience with their work. The compositions of these legendary French musicians vary from genres like classical, jazz, hip-hop, pop, to even comedy. Amongst the many great names of French music, some of the famous ones are Robert Ballard, Jean-Baptiste Arban, Arnold Dolmetsch, and Vincent Monteil. Even present day musicians such as Gaspard Michel Andre Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have made their country proud by receiving prestigious awards such as the ‘Grammy’. Many of their famous compositions draw inspiration from French culture. Get an insight into the lives of some of the most famous French musicians through this collection of biographies. Read on to explore more about their life stories, timelines and also learn a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

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 1 
David Guetta
(Disc Jockey)
David Guetta
7
Birthdate: November 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio

David Guetta is a French songwriter, record producer, and DJ. Over the years, Guetta has been one of the most popular DJs in the world; in 2011 and 2020, he was voted the best DJ in a poll conducted by DJ Magazine. Referred to as the grandfather of EDM, Guetta has several prestigious awards under his belt, including two Grammys.

 2 
Claude Debussy
(French Impressionist Composer Best Known for His Opera 'Pelléas et Mélisande')
Claude Debussy
9
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: March 25, 1918

Claude Debussy was a French composer whose career spanned over 30 years. Regarded as one of the most influential composers of his generation, Claude Debussy's works have influenced several other composers, such as Bill Evans, George Benjamin, Olivier Messiaen, and Béla Bartók. Claude Debussy is also regarded as the first Impressionist composer, though he rejected the term.

 3 
Django Reinhardt
6
Birthdate: January 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liberchies, Belgium
Died: May 16, 1953
Belgian-born Romani-French jazz musician Jean Reinhardt was better known by his nickname Django. Some of his most celebrated composition were Belleville and Swing '42. Though he died at 43, he influenced an entire generation of musicians, which led to annual Django Festivals, a film, and a biography.
 4 
Erik Satie
(French Composer and Pianist Known for His Work ‘Gymnopédies’)
Erik Satie
5
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur, France
Died: July 1, 1925

Erik Satie was a French pianist and composer. An influential artist during his time, Satie's works served as a predecessor to later artistic movements like repetitive music, minimalism, and the Theatre of the Absurd. Apart from being a musician, Erik Satie was also a prolific writer, who contributed to publications, such as Vanity Fair and 391.

 5 
DJ Snake
(French Record Producer, DJ and Songwriter Known for His Singles ‘Bird Machine’ and ‘Turn Down for What’)
DJ Snake
11
Birthdate: June 13, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

DJ Snake is a French record producer and DJ. He is best known for his English-Spanish song Taki Taki, which won several awards, including BMI Latin Awards. Over the years, Snake has won many prestigious awards, such as Billboard Music Awards and an MTV Video Music Award. In 2019, he was ranked 16th on DJ Magazine's Top 100 DJs list.

 6 
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
(Known as one half of the former French house music duo Daft Punk, along with Thomas Bangalter)
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
5
Birthdate: February 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

French musician, singer-songwriter, record-producer, DJ, and film director Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is one former half of the French electronic music duo Daft Punk that he formed with Thomas Bangalter. The duo achieved both critical and commercial success with albums like Discovery and RandomAccess Memories. Homem-Christo has also spawned works through the record label Crydamoure which he co-owns with Eric Chedeville.

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 7 
Maurice Ravel
(One of the Leading Composers of Impressionist Music, Known for His Orchestral Work "Boléro,")
Maurice Ravel
6
Birthdate: March 7, 1875
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ciboure, France
Died: December 28, 1937
French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel is best known for his orchestral composition Boléro. He rejected the Legion d'honneur and all French awards. He was one the first composers to realize the importance of recording music to gain a wider reach. Most of his music consisted of piano and orchestration.
 8 
Jane Birkin
(Singer, songwriter and actress)
Jane Birkin
6
Birthdate: December 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Marylebone, London, England
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 9 
Camille Saint-Saëns
(One of the Greatest Organists and Composers of the Romantic Era)
Camille Saint-Saëns
4
Birthdate: October 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 16, 1921
French composer and multi-instrumentalist Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was an icon of the Romantic era, known for masterpieces such as the First Cello Concerto and the opera Samson and Delilah. He was initially a church organist and then became a freelance composer and pianist. He also taught music in Paris.
 10 
Hector Berlioz
(French Composer and Conductor Known for His Work ‘Symphonie fantastique’, ‘Harold in Italy’ and ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
Hector Berlioz
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: La Côte-Saint-André, France
Died: March 8, 1869

Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic conductor and composer who was highly regarded in places like Russia, Britain, and Germany. Although he did not achieve fame as a composer, Berlioz became renowned internationally for his skills as a conductor. He also wrote musical journalism, which includes his influential work, Treatise on Instrumentation. 

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 11 
Jean-Michel Jarre
4
Birthdate: August 24, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lyon, France
French composer and record producer Jean-Michel André Jarre is known for his pathbreaking experiments in the electronic, new-age, and ambient genres. His signature style includes inclusion of overwhelming laser shows, fireworks, and projections in his music shows. He became the first Western artist invited to perform in China.
 12 
Serge Gainsbourg
(One of the World's Most Influential Pop Musicians)
Serge Gainsbourg
6
Birthdate: February 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 2, 1991
French musician, singer, and actor Serge Gainsbourg had experimented with a variety of music forms, such as jazz, pop, and reggae. Renowned for songs such as Bonnie and Clyde, he also included sexual overtones in his lyrics. He had also acted in and directed films and written a short novel.
 13 
Albert Schweitzer
(Physician and Founder of the “Albert Schweitzer Hospital” in Lambaréné,)
Albert Schweitzer
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France
Died: September 4, 1965

Albert Schweitzer was an Alsatian polymath who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work, Reverence for Life. He is credited with founding the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which was a direct result of his philosophical expression. Schweitzer is also credited with influencing the Organ reform movement, which began in the mid-20th-century.

 14 
Christine and the Queens
(Pop Singer Known for Her Unique Fusion of Music, Art, and Performance)
Christine and the Queens
5
Birthdate: June 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France

Hélöise Letissier, also known as Christine and the Queens and Chris, often challenges gender stereotypes through her music. The queer electropop and indie artist was inspired by drag queens in London, after she quit theater school following a break-up. Known for her chart-busting debut album, Chaleur humaine, she identifies as pansexual.

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 15 
Olivier Messiaen
(One of the Major Composers, Organists and Ornithologists of the 20th Century Who Developed 'Modes of Limited Transposition')
Olivier Messiaen
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: April 27, 1992

French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen is credited with creating melodically innovative scores, using what he called "modes of limited transposition." An ornithologist, too, he added bird songs into his compositions such as La fauvette des jardins and Catalogue d'oiseaux. His Messiaen: Concert A Quatre won a Grammy.

 16 
Georges Bizet
(French Composer Best Known for His Opera ‘Carmen’)
Georges Bizet
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 3, 1875

Georges Bizet was a French composer whose career was cut short by his untimely demise at the age of 36. Since his death in 1875, Bizet's final work Carmen has become one of the most frequently performed works in the opera repertoire. Although he couldn’t achieve success during his lifetime, Bizet's death is considered a loss to French musical theatre.

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 17 
Ève Curie
(Journalist and Pianist Best Known for Writing a Biography of Her Mother “Madame Curie”)
Ève Curie
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1904
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 2007

French and American writer, journalist, and pianist Ève Curie was one of the daughters of scientists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. She was the only one in the Curie family who did not choose a career in science. She authored her mother’s biography and was actively involved with UNICEF, helping women and children in developing countries.

 18 
Pierre Boulez
(Composer)
Pierre Boulez
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: January 5, 2016
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 19 
Barbara Pravi
(Singer-songwriter)
Barbara Pravi
5
Birthdate: April 10, 1993
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

Barbara Pravi is a French actress, singer, and songwriter. As a songwriter, she has contributed immensely to the success of popular artists like Jaden Smith, Julie Zenatti, Yannick Noah, and Chimène Badi. She also contributed to the success of Valentina Tronel, composing J'imagine which helped Valentina win the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.

 20 
Thomas Bangalter
(One half of the former French house music duo Daft Punk, alongside Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo)
Thomas Bangalter
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France

French musician Thomas Bangalter had been part of the six-time Grammy-winning electronic music duo Daft Punk for 28 years, before it split. Known for wearing their signature helmets while performing, he and his partner, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, released iconic hits such as Da Funk and Get Lucky.

 21 
Indila
(Singer-songwriter)
Indila
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France

Adila Sedraïa, or Indila, began her career as a composer and even wrote songs for artists such as Axel Tony and Admiral T. She earned a label deal after collaborating with Youssoupha on the song Dreamin’ and reached No. 2 on the French charts with her debut track Dernière danse.

 22 
Edgard Varese
(Composer)
Edgard Varese
2
Birthdate: December 22, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 6, 1965
 23 
Gabriel Fauré
(One of the Major French Composers Associated With the End of Romanticism.)
Gabriel Fauré
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1845
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pamiers, France
Died: June 4, 1924

One of the greatest composers of all time, French pianist and organist Gabriel Fauré is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem. His music career began at 9, when he was sent to Paris to become a choirmaster. At 75, he was awarded the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur.

 24 
Manu Chao
(French-Spanish singer.)
Manu Chao
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1961
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

Born to Spanish parents in Paris, Latin Grammy-winning artist Manu Chao is one of the pioneers of Latin alternative rock. His French rock band Mano Negra has delivered hits in English, Spanish, and Arabic. His solo career has seen him release international hits such as Clandestino and Me Gustas Tu.

 25 
Thomas Mars
(Musical Artist and Lead Vocalist of the Indie Pop Band ‘Phoenix’)
Thomas Mars
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1976
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Versailles, France

Phoenix lead vocalist Thomas Mars once spoke about how he had cut off everything that could distract him from making a potential career in music during college. He met Sofia Coppola while composing for one of her films, and the duo got married, leading to more collaborations.

 26 
Anggun
(Singer-songwriter)
Anggun
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Jakarta, Indonesia
 27 
Khatia Buniatishvili
(Georgian-French Concert Pianist)
Khatia Buniatishvili
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Batumi, Georgia

Khatia Buniatishvili is a Georgian-French pianist. Buniatishvili has been playing since the age of three and gave her first concert when she was just six years old. She then went on to play at an international stage at the age of 10. Buniatishvili is known for her association with Sony Classical, which has produced many of her solo piano albums.

 28 
Alexandre Desplat
(Film composer who earned Original Score Academy Award nominations for "Argo," "The King's Speech," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," and "Philomena.")
Alexandre Desplat
3
Birthdate: August 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
 29 
Jain
(Singer-songwriter)
Jain
3
Birthdate: February 7, 1992
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toulouse, France
French singer-songwriter Jeanne Louise Galice is better known as Jain. She began her career posting videos on Myspace. The fact that she sings in English has made her quite a sensation across Europe and Canada. Her hit video Makeba earned her a Grammy nomination. She has also delivered hits such as Souldier.
 30 
Jacques Offenbach
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: October 5, 1880
 31 
Amanda Lear
(Singer)
Amanda Lear
4
Birthdate: June 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
 32 
Charles Aznavour
(One of the Greatest Songwriters in the History of Music and an Icon of 20th-Century Pop Culture.)
Charles Aznavour
1
Birthdate: May 22, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 1, 2018

Charles Aznavour was a French-Armenian actor, singer, diplomat, and lyricist. One of France's most famous singers, Aznavour was called the Frank Sinatra of France. One of the best-selling musicians of his generation, Aznavour sold 200 million records. In 1998, CNN named him the Entertainer of the Century. In 2017, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 33 
Bilal Hassani
(French Singer-Songwriter, YouTuber Who Represented France in Eurovision Song Contest 2019)
Bilal Hassani
5
Birthdate: September 9, 1999
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France

Bilal Hassani is a French YouTuber, singer, and songwriter. He achieved international recognition in 2019 when he represented France at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. He managed to score 105 points in the Eurovision final, finishing 16th. In 2019, he was also honored at the NRJ Music Awards with the Francophone Breakthrough of the Year award.

 34 
Francis Poulenc
(French Composer and Pianist Known for His Works: ‘Trois mouvements perpétuels’, ‘Les biches’ and ‘Concert champêtre’)
Francis Poulenc
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 30, 1963

French composer Francis Poulenc was most self-taught, as he was not encouraged to join a music school by his pharmaceutical manufacturer father. Part of the legendary “Les Six” of French music, Poulenc was also a skilled pianist. He is also remembered for the opera Les dialogues des Carmélites.

 35 
Françoise Hardy
(French Singer-Songwriter Known for Singing Melancholic Sentimental Ballads)
Françoise Hardy
3
Birthdate: January 17, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France

A major figure of the 1960s’ yé-yé movement, French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy is known for tracks such as Tous les garçons et les filles. She also appeared in supporting roles in a few films. Following her diagnosis of lymphatic cancer and the subsequent radiation therapy, she pleaded for assisted suicide.

 36 
Mylène Farmer
(Singer-songwriter)
Mylène Farmer
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pierrefonds, Montreal, Canada

French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer is best known for her hits such as Libertine and Les Mots, and for her collaborative acts with Laurent Boutonnat. Born Mylene Jeanne Gautier, she later changed her name to Mylene Farmer in honor of Hollywood star Frances Farmer, who was her idol.

 37 
Maurice Jarre
(Composer)
Maurice Jarre
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: 5th arrondissement of Lyon, Lyon, France
Died: March 28, 2009
 38 
Willy William
(French DJ, Record Producer and Singer Famous for His French Hit 'Ego' and His Latin Hit 'MI Gente')
Willy William
4
Birthdate: April 14, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fréjus, France
French-Mauritian artist Willy William has made a name for himself in dance music both as a solo artist and as part of the group Collectif Métissé. His chart-topping collaborations include DJ Assad’s Li Tourner and J Balvin’s Mi Gente. He has also rocked the European charts with his solo Ego.
 39 
Zaz
(Singer-songwriter)
Zaz
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chambray-lès-Tours, France
 40 
Rick Dufay
(Musician, Songwriter)
Rick Dufay
4
Birthdate: February 2, 1952
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

Rick Dufay is a French-American guitarist known for his association with the popular band Aerosmith. He played for the band from 1980 to 1984, during which regular guitarist Brad Whitford had left the band. Dufay left the band upon Whitford's return in 1984 and was praised for his selfless gesture. Thus, Dufay is credited with keeping the band from disbanding.

 41 
Madeon
(Disc jockey, Record producer, Songwriter)
Madeon
3
Birthdate: May 30, 1994
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nantes
 42 
Kavinsky
(French Musician, Producer, DJ, and Actor)
Kavinsky
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Seine-Saint-Denis, France

French electro house artist, musician, DJ, actor and producer Kavinsky started off as an actor before making his mark in the French music-scene. He gained greater mainstream recognition after his song Nightcall was used in title sequence for the blockbuster hit 2011 American neo-noir action, drama and crime film Drive. The song was later included on his debut studio-album, OutRun.

 43 
Lorin Maazel
(Conductor)
Lorin Maazel
2
Birthdate: March 6, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died: July 13, 2014
 44 
Kendji Girac
(Singer)
Kendji Girac
3
Birthdate: July 3, 1996
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Périgueux, Aquitaine, France
 45 
Jean-Philippe Rameau
(Music composer and theorist)
Jean-Philippe Rameau
2
Birthdate: September 25, 1683
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dijon
Died: September 12, 1764

One of the greatest French opera composers and music theorists of all time, Jean-Philippe Rameau enriched the late Baroque period with his harpsichord pieces. His organist father wanted him to pursue law, but Rameau wasn’t academically bright and had poor grammar, which made Rameau travel to Italy to study music.

 46 
Jean-Baptiste Lully
(French Composer, Instrumentalist, and Dancer)
Jean-Baptiste Lully
3
Birthdate: November 28, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: March 22, 1687

Born to Italian parents, Jean-Baptiste Lully grew up to be a legendary composer who ruled the French courts. He started his journey as a violinist in Louis XIV’s band and later came to be known for his tragic operas. He had also apparently invented the French overture.

 47 
Peter Abelard
(French Scholastic Philosopher, Logician and Theologian Known for Developing the Concept of 'Limbo')
Peter Abelard
3
Birthdate: 1079 AD
Birthplace: Le Pallet, France
Died: April 21, 1142

Medieval French philosopher, theologian, and poet Peter Abelard was born to a knight but gave up his inheritance to study philosophy and logic. He fell in love with his pupil, Héloïse, but her uncle got Abelard castrated, following which Abelard became a monk and made Héloïse a nun.

 48 
Josquin des Prez
(One of the Greatest Composers of European High Renaissance )
Josquin des Prez
3
Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Condé-sur-l'Escaut, France
Died: August 27, 1521

Josquin des Prez was one of the most influential Renaissance composers. Known for his motets, masses, and chansons, he is revered as the main figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Details of his early days are vague, and he was, for a long time, mistaken as another singer, Josquin de Kessalia.

 49 
Lou Doillon
(Singer-songwriter)
Lou Doillon
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1982
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
 50 
Nadia Boulanger
(One of the Most Influential Teachers of Musical Composition of the 20th Century)
Nadia Boulanger
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 1979

Born to a music instructor father, French composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger was no stranger to music as a kid. The first woman to conduct prime orchestras, she had the who’s who of the music industry, such as Elliott Carter, Roy Harris, and Quincy Jones, on her list of students.