The Most Famous

MUSICIANS from France

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This page contains a list of the greatest French Musicians. The pantheon dataset contains 2,675 Musicians, 72 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 4th most number of Musicians behind United Kingdom and Germany.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Musicians of all time. This list of famous French Musicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Musicians.

Photo of Jean-Michel Jarre

1. Jean-Michel Jarre (1948 - )

With an HPI of 77.23, Jean-Michel Jarre is the most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages on wikipedia.

Jean-Michel André Jarre (French: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl ɑ̃dʁe ʒaʁ]; born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and new-age genres, and is known for organising outdoor spectacles featuring his music, vast laser displays, large projections and fireworks. Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents and trained on the piano. From an early age, he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including street performers, jazz musicians and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales. His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979, Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician. As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People's Republic of China and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event for his Moscow concert on 6 September 1997, which was attended by 3.5 million people.

Photo of Richard Clayderman

2. Richard Clayderman (1953 - )

With an HPI of 73.87, Richard Clayderman is the 2nd most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Richard Clayderman (French pronunciation: ​[ʁiʃaʁ klɛidɛʁman]; born Philippe Pagès French pronunciation: ​[filip paʒɛs], 28 December 1953 in Paris) is a French pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of popular works of classical music.

Photo of Thomas Bangalter

3. Thomas Bangalter (1 - )

With an HPI of 73.60, Thomas Bangalter is the 3rd most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Thomas Bangalter (French pronunciation: ​[tɔma bɑ̃ɡaltɛʁ]; born 3 January 1975) is a French musician, record producer, singer, songwriter, DJ, and composer. He is best known as one half of the former French house music duo Daft Punk, alongside Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. He has recorded and released music as a member of the trio Stardust, the duo Together, and as a solo artist. Bangalter's work has influenced a wide range of artists, many of whom are involved in different genres.Bangalter owns the music label Roulé. He has provided compositions for films such as Irréversible. Outside of music production, his credits include film director and cinematographer.

Photo of Paul Mauriat

4. Paul Mauriat (1925 - 2006)

With an HPI of 73.13, Paul Mauriat is the 4th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Paul Julien André Mauriat (French: [pɔl mɔʁja] or [moʁja]; 4 March 1925 – 3 November 2006) was a French orchestra leader, conductor of Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat, who specialized in the easy listening genre. He is best known in the United States for his million-selling remake of André Popp's "Love is Blue", which was #1 for 5 weeks in 1968. Other recordings for which he is known include "El Bimbo", "Toccata", "Love in Every Room/Même si tu revenais", and "Penelope".

Photo of Arnaut Daniel

5. Arnaut Daniel (1150 - 1210)

With an HPI of 72.35, Arnaut Daniel is the 5th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Arnaut Daniel (Occitan: [aɾˈnawd daniˈɛl]; fl. 1180–1200) was an Occitan troubadour of the 12th century, praised by Dante as "the best smith" (miglior fabbro) and called a "grand master of love" (gran maestro d'amore) by Petrarch. In the 20th century he was lauded by Ezra Pound in The Spirit of Romance (1910) as the greatest poet to have ever lived.

Photo of Nadia Boulanger

6. Nadia Boulanger (1887 - 1979)

With an HPI of 72.16, Nadia Boulanger is the 6th most famous French Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Juliette Nadia Boulanger (French: [ʒy.ljɛt na.dja bu.lɑ̃.ʒe]; 16 September 1887 – 22 October 1979) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century, and also performed occasionally as a pianist and organist.From a musical family, she achieved early honours as a student at the Conservatoire de Paris but, believing that she had no particular talent as a composer, she gave up writing music and became a teacher. In that capacity, she influenced generations of young composers, especially those from the United States and other English-speaking countries. Among her students were those who became leading composers, soloists, arrangers, and conductors, including Grażyna Bacewicz, Daniel Barenboim, Lennox Berkeley, İdil Biret, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, David Diamond, John Eliot Gardiner, Philip Glass, Roy Harris, Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, Darius Milhaud, Astor Piazzolla, Lalo Schifrin and Virgil Thomson. Boulanger taught in the US and England, working with music academies including the Juilliard School, the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Longy School, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, but her principal base for most of her life was her family's flat in Paris, where she taught for most of the seven decades from the start of her career until her death at the age of 92. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct many major orchestras in America and Europe, including the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Hallé, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia orchestras. She conducted several world premieres, including works by Copland and Stravinsky.

Photo of David Guetta

7. David Guetta (1967 - )

With an HPI of 71.96, David Guetta is the 7th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.

Pierre David Guetta (/ˈɡɛtə/, French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ david ɡɛta]; born 7 November 1967) is a French DJ, record producer and songwriter. Globally, he has racked up over 50 million record sales, whereas his total number of streams is over 10 billion. In 2011 & 2020, Guetta was voted as the number one DJ in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll. In 2013, Billboard crowned "When Love Takes Over" as the number one dance-pop collaboration of all time. He has been called the "grandfather of EDM".Born and raised in Paris, he released his first album, Just a Little More Love, in 2002. Later, he released Guetta Blaster (2004), Pop Life (2007), One Love (2009), One More Love (2010), Nothing But The Beat (2011), Listen (2014), Listen Again (2015), 7 (2018). Guetta achieved mainstream success with his 2009 album One Love which included the hit singles "When Love Takes Over", "Gettin' Over You", "Sexy Bitch", and "Memories", the first three of which reached number one in the United Kingdom. The 2011 follow-up album, Nothing but the Beat, continued this success, containing the hit singles "Where Them Girls At", "Little Bad Girl", "Without You", "Titanium", and "Turn Me On". In 2018, he released the album "7" featuring J Balvin, Nicki Minaj, Jason Derulo, Sia, G-Eazy, and more. The album also featured 12 tracks by his alias Jack Back. In 2019, he started a new movement together with fellow producer MORTEN called "Future Rave". After receiving over 110 million streams on their releases, they dropped their "New Rave" EP in July 2020 for the fans to enjoy at home despite clubs being closed. David Guetta and Sia released their smash hit "Let's Love" (2020), inspired to deliver a message of love and hope, as it was recorded and released during the global lockdowns.Guetta's accolades include two Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, and a Billboard Music Award.

Photo of Charles-Valentin Alkan

8. Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813 - 1888)

With an HPI of 71.15, Charles-Valentin Alkan is the 8th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Charles-Valentin Alkan (French: [ʃaʁl valɑ̃tɛ̃ alkɑ̃]; 30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French-Jewish composer and virtuoso pianist. At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s he was, alongside his friends and colleagues Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, among the leading pianists in Paris, a city in which he spent virtually his entire life. Alkan earned many awards at the Conservatoire de Paris, which he entered before he was six. His career in the salons and concert halls of Paris was marked by his occasional long withdrawals from public performance, for personal reasons. Although he had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in the Parisian artistic world, including Eugène Delacroix and George Sand, from 1848 he began to adopt a reclusive life style, while continuing with his compositions – virtually all of which are for the keyboard. During this period he published, among other works, his collections of large-scale studies in all the major keys (Op. 35) and all the minor keys (Op. 39). The latter includes his Symphony for Solo Piano (Op. 39, nos. 4–7) and Concerto for Solo Piano (Op. 39, nos. 8–10), which are often considered among his masterpieces and are of great musical and technical complexity. Alkan emerged from self-imposed retirement in the 1870s to give a series of recitals that were attended by a new generation of French musicians. Alkan's attachment to his Jewish origins is displayed both in his life and his work. He was the first composer to incorporate Jewish melodies in art music. Fluent in Hebrew and Greek, he devoted much time to a complete new translation of the Bible into French. This work, like many of his musical compositions, is now lost. Alkan never married, but his presumed son Élie-Miriam Delaborde was, like Alkan, a virtuoso performer on both the piano and the pedal piano, and edited a number of the elder composer's works. Following his death (which according to persistent but unfounded legend was caused by a falling bookcase), Alkan's music became neglected, supported by only a few musicians including Ferruccio Busoni, Egon Petri and Kaikhosru Sorabji. From the late 1960s onwards, led by Raymond Lewenthal and Ronald Smith, many pianists have recorded his music and brought it back into the repertoire.

Photo of Stéphane Grappelli

9. Stéphane Grappelli (1908 - 1997)

With an HPI of 70.05, Stéphane Grappelli is the 9th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Stéphane Grappelli (French pronunciation: ​[stefan ɡʁapɛli]; 26 January 1908 – 1 December 1997), born Stefano Grappelli, was a French-Italian jazz violinist who founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934. It was one of the first all-string jazz bands. He has been called "the grandfather of jazz violinists" and continued playing concerts around the world well into his eighties.For the first three decades of his career, he was billed using a gallicised spelling of his last name, Grappelly, reverting to Grappelli in 1969. The latter, Italian spelling is now used almost universally when referring to the violinist, including reissues of his early work.

Photo of Jean-Marie Leclair

10. Jean-Marie Leclair (1697 - 1764)

With an HPI of 69.77, Jean-Marie Leclair is the 10th most famous French Musician.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Jean-Marie Leclair l'aîné, also known as Jean-Marie Leclair the Elder (10 May 1697 – 22 October 1764), was a Baroque violinist and composer. He is considered to have founded the French violin school. His brothers Jean-Marie Leclair the younger (1703–77), Pierre Leclair (1709–84) and Jean-Benoît Leclair (1714–after 1759) were also musicians.

Pantheon has 72 people classified as musicians born between 1 and 1996. Of these 72, 37 (51.39%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living musicians include Jean-Michel Jarre, Richard Clayderman, and Thomas Bangalter. The most famous deceased musicians include Paul Mauriat, Arnaut Daniel, and Nadia Boulanger. As of October 2020, 11 new musicians have been added to Pantheon including Jean-Baptiste Arban, Christian Ferras, and Zino Francescatti.

Living Musicians

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Deceased Musicians

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Newly Added Musicians (2020)

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Which Musicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Musicians since 1700.