Jean Ferrat

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Jean Ferrat
Jean Ferrat
Background information
Birth name Jean Tenenbaum
Born (1930-12-26)26 December 1930
Vaucresson, France
Died 13 March 2010(2010-03-13) (aged 79)
Aubenas, France
Occupations singer, songwriter, composer
Years active 1958–2009
Labels Decca (1960–1962)
Barclay (1963–1976),
then (French) Temey

Jean Ferrat (born Jean Tenenbaum, 26 December 1930 – 13 March 2010)[1] was a French singer-songwriter and poet. He specialized in singing poetry, particularly that of Louis Aragon.


Ferrat was born in Vaucresson, Hauts-de-Seine. He was the youngest of four children from a modest family which moved to Versailles in 1935, where Ferrat studied at the Jules Ferry College. His Russian-born father (naturalized in 1928) was forced to wear the yellow star and deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Ferrat dropped out of school to help the family survive.

In the early 1950s, he started in Parisian cabaret. After that he avoided any particular musical style, but remained faithful to himself, his friends and his public.

In 1956, he set "Les yeux d'Elsa" ("Elsa's eyes"), a Louis Aragon poem which Ferrat loved, to music. Its rendition by popular artist André Claveau brought Ferrat some initial recognition as a songwriter.

His first 45 RPM single was released in 1958, without success. It was not until 1959, with publisher Gérard Meys, who also became his close friend and associate, that his career started to flourish. He signed with Decca and released his second single, "Ma Môme", in 1960 under the musical direction of Meys.

In 1961, Ferrat married Christine Sèvres, a singer who performed some of his songs. She died in 1981 at age 50.[2] He also met Alain Goraguer, who became an arranger of his songs. His debut album, Deux Enfants du Soleil, was released that year. Ferrat also wrote songs for Zizi Jeanmaire and went on the road, sharing billing with her at the Alhambra for six months.

Nuit et Brouillard ("Night and Fog"), which followed in 1963, was awarded the Académie Charles Cros's Grand Prix du Disque. Ferrat toured again in 1965, but stopped performing on stage in 1973.


In 1990, he received an award from the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique, (SACEM) the French association of songwriters, composers and music publishers.

In 2010, Ferrat died of a long illness[3] at the age of 79. He lived in a small village of 700 people in Ardeche.[4]


Didier Caesar (alias Dieter Kaiser), a Belgian-German singer has translated some of Ferrat's songs into German.

Jean Ferrat was translated in basque language by Andoni Lekuona for the singer Imanol

The melody of Ferrat's 'La Montagne' was used for the Dutch song 'Het Dorp', written in 1965 by Friso Wiegersma.

Some of his songs were translated into the Hebrew by Avraham Oz.


In 2013 Ferrat's song, Nuit et Brouillard, appeared in the BBC's list of 20 songs that changed the world.[5]


  • 1961: Deux enfants au soleil ("Ma Môme", "Federico Garcia Lorca", etc.)
  • 1963: Nuit et brouillard ("C'est beau la vie", "Nous dormirons ensemble", etc.)
  • 1964: La Montagne ("Que serais-je sans toi", "Hourrah !", etc.)
  • 1965: Potemkine ("C'est toujours la première fois", "On ne voit pas le temps passer", etc.)
  • 1966: Maria ("Heureux celui qui meurt d'aimer", "Un enfant quitte Paris", etc.)
  • 1967: À Santiago ("Cuba si", "Les Guérilleros", etc.)
  • 1969: Ma France ("Au printemps de quoi rêvais-tu ?", "L'Idole à papa", etc.)
  • 1970: Camarade ("Sacré Félicien", "Les Lilas", etc.)
  • 1971: La Commune ("Les touristes partis", "Aimer à perdre la raison", etc.)
  • 1971: Ferrat chante Aragon ("Le Malheur d'aimer", "Robert le Diable", etc.) sold more than 2,000,000 copies
  • 1972: À moi l'Afrique ("Une femme honnête", "Les Saisons", etc.)
  • 1975: La femme est l'avenir de l'homme ("Dans le silence de la ville", "Un air de liberté", etc.) sold 500,000 copies
  • 1979: Les Instants volés ("Le Tiers chant", "Le chef de gare est amoureux", etc.)
  • 1980: Ferrat 80 ("Le Bilan", "L'amour est cerise", etc.) certified platinum record
  • 1985: Je ne suis qu'un cri ("La Porte à droite", "Le Chataîgnier", etc.)
  • 1991: Dans la jungle ou dans le zoo ("Les Tournesols", "Nul ne guérit de son enfance", etc.)
  • 1995: Ferrat chante Aragon Vol. 2 ("Complainte de Pablo Neruda", "Les feux de Paris", "Lorsque s'en vient le soir", etc.)
  • 2002: Ferrat en scène
  • 2009: Best Of (3 CDs)


  1. ^ Jean Ferrat est mort (in French), Artistik Rezo. 13 March 2010.
  2. ^ Biographie de Christine Sèvres
  3. ^ Jean Ferrat is dead
  4. ^ "Jean Ferrat enterré dans son village d'Ardèche". Retrieved 2013-07-02. 
  5. ^ "20 of your songs that changed the world". BBC News magazine. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.