Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO Director-General pays tribute to the memory of the French songwriter and singer Georges Moustaki

UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, expressed her sadness at the news of Georges Moustaki’s death. The singer-songwriter, who was a major figure in French music and a UNESCO Artist for Peace, passed away Thursday, May 23.

"We have lost a great poet and an artist who exuded elegance. During Paris’ golden era of intellectuals and artists Georges Moustaki wrote some of the most beautiful songs in French music for singers such as Barbara,Juliette  Gréco, Serge Reggiani, Edith Piaf and Yves Montand. His songs Le Métèque, Le Temps de Vivre and Eden Blues continue to be unique expressions of poetry and emotions."

Born in 1934 in Egypt to Greek parents, Georges Moustaki was, from a young age, interested in French literature and music. The singer left Egypt and moved to Paris where he met singer Georges Brassens who introduced him to the world of music and presented him to Edith Piaf. Moustaki later wrote the song “Milord” for her.

Georges Moustaki gained public recognition in 1969 with his song “Le Métèque” which launched his international career and led him to perform in the world’s biggest concert halls.  Fluent in seven languages and being an avid traveler, Moustaki found his inspiration in the Mediterranean region and introduced the French audience to music from around the world. Throughout his career, Moustaki never ceased to mix music styles from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Georges Moustaki was named UNESCO Artist for Peace on September 14, 1999 « in recognition of his commitment for the promotion of a culture of peace and his contribution to promoting the Organization’s ideals through music and poetry. » He participated in the opening ceremony of the International Year for the Culture of Peace by interpreting a poem by Yannis Ritsos entitled “Peace”.

“Georges Moustaki had dedicated his life to music. We have lost a great singer and a man of peace. In my name and in the name of UNESCO I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.” declared Irina Bokova.