Every revolution has its own songs. In France, the birthplace of revolution, the tradition of protest songs has been strongly developed. La Carmagnole, the song of the French Revolution (composed in 1792), emerged at every successive revolution or uprising, with a slight adaptation of the names of villains, heroes, and historic circumstances. Like the Marseillaise and the Internationale, La Carmagnole has become a classic.
Among the many cabarets and honky tonks in Paris, some were decidedly left wing. The 'groupe des poètes et chansonniers révolutionnaires La Muse Rouge' was founded by socialists and anarchists in 1901, and lasted until 1939. This company had a repertoire of classical and self-composed songs that they brought to trade union festivals cooperations, and similar events. The composer and singer Charles d'Avray (1878-1960) completely exemplified an anarchist bard. He had his own cabaret in Monmartre and wandered through the country dressed in a black cape and a flamboyant hat to sing his protest songs and praises for free love.
At the IISH much of the music sheets from the French revolutionary and anarchist movements have been preserved. Some of these publications cannot even be found in French libraries and institutes, probably because anarchist publishers did not comply with the statutory obligation to deposit a copy at the National Library.
The IISH has included these materials in the 'documentation collection', which contains separate documents such as flyers, pamphlets, sheet music, and separate sheets. This documentation collection has recently been rearranged, and described.
- Go to a dozen music sheets to find illlustrations and more information
- Read more about the Documentation Collection
- Website Le Drapeau Rouge
Robert Brécy, Autour de La Muse Rouge..., Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire 1991
Gaetano Manfredonia, La chanson anarchiste en France des origines à 1914, Paris 1997