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Joséphine Markovits, Artistic Director of the Festival d'Automne à Paris, has Died at 77

The contemporary music specialist contributed to programming at the Paris Festival for half a century


Joséphine Markovits, the long-standing Artistic Director of France's Festival d'Automne à Paris, has passed away at the age of 77. She devoted much of her life to the Festival, beginning there as press officer in 1972 and becoming responsible for the musical programming from 1976 onward.

The Festival was first founded in 1972 by Michel Guy, with support from the then-President of the French Republic, Georges Pompidou. Following Guy's death in 1990, Alain Crombecque became the Director of the Festival, and Markovits — along with Marie Collin — became an artistic director.

Markovits was incredibly broad in her approach to unearthing the best contemporary music. She traveled widely, to locations as diverse as the Australian desert and western Mongolia, with the aim of discovering, ordering, and disseminating new works.

Despite her age and her long illness, Markovits continued her work on the festival as long as she possibly could, and contributed to the 2024 program.

Our condolences to Markovits's family, friends, and colleagues.

"For us, it’s a big void and a big page that is turning," said Gérard di Giacomo, deputy to the general director of the Festival d’Automne. "She was a very strong personality, incredibly demanding of herself and of others. She had this constant concern to present the work as closely as possible to what the composer wanted. She listened to them to serve their piece until the end."

Markovits was particularly renowned for her ability to select relatively unknown musicians to appear at the Festival. "I remember seeing her program George Russell’s orchestra in the 1980s, when at the time, no one was talking about it," said Arnaud Merlin, a producer at France Musique. 

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