From the time Monaco was under the Grimaldi family tutelage, music has been supported and enjoyed by the people. Musical studies and concerts were encouraged from a young age.
One of the world’s leading orchestras, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, was established in 1863. Many talented musicians and conductors have worked with this orchestra throughout the centuries, and its excellence in music performance continue to this day. Today, the orchestra is housed at the Salle Garnier, part of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, located at the Monte Carlo Casino. It is also where the Les Ballet de Monte Carlo performs as well.
The Les Ballet de Monte-Carlo is actually a rather new organization in comparison with some of the other arts groups. Princess Caroline, at the urging of her mother Grace Kelly, helped put forth the motions to create a classical ballet troupe. Today, students come from all over the world to study and perform with Les Ballet de Monte-Carlo.
In 1973 a children’s choir called Little Singers of Monaco was created as a global representative of Monaco for children’s choirs, a choral ambassadorship if you will. One of their main goals is to continue the tradition of singing liturgies in the Palatine Chapel, a tradition that goes back to reign of Prince Antoine I (reigned from 1701-1731).
There’s not too much out there among the popular music from musicians who hail from Monaco. But there have been a few who have made it to international notoriety. Josh Stanley was born and raised in Monaco but studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Growing up in a multicultural area led him to be able to speak French, Italian, English, Chinese, and German. He also merges several different musical genres as well, from acoustic, pop, and rock to electronic, house, and jazz music. He’s probably most known for his song “Sarko” that was dedicated to Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president.
Another musician I came across is Léo Ferré. His music features my favorite instrument: the piano, along with strings. The album I listened to reminds me of the type of music you hear in an old movie during a love scene, or perhaps, an unrequited love scene, the quintessential French love song. Or something.
I also listened to Séverine, Monaco’s answer to "Everything the '70s had to Offer." She was very popular during the early 1970s and 1980s and represented Monaco in the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest where she won that year. She competed in others, but that was her only win.
As I did some additional research, I found another band from Monaco. I sampled some of the work of Godkiller, a one-man metal band. Actually, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve heard. He tries to incorporate some classical elements to his music, which I appreciate. I mean, outside of the screaming-for-singing, it’s not too bad.
Although I have a degree in music, there are still many composers I have not listened to yet. Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti is one of them. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, arriving with a letter of introduction from none other than Toscanini’s wife. While he was there, two of his fellow students were Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. Menotti was famous for writing modern operas. He won two Pulizers, one for The Consul (1950) and one for The Saint of Bleecker Street (1955). Although he traveled around, he had a house in Monte Carlo, which is where he passed away at the age of 95.
Up next: the food