Dear Philippe Bélaval, Director-General of Heritage, Dear Hervé Lemoine, Dear Members of the High Committee, Dear Friends,

First of all, I would like to pay tribute to
of the High Committee for National Commemorations, for the
quality of their work, expertise, and the Archives de France.
All will have demonstrated, once again, all that this memory exercise
to which the French are very attached can contribute to the construction of a
shared history.

My regards and wishes for recovery go first to Jean
Favier, whose health difficulties I know, and who was able to preside over this High
Committee with the foresight and sagacity known to him.

And I am convinced that Alain Corbin, with all his erudition
and his outstanding talent for exploring anthropological and
of contemporary history, will ensure a presidency
outstanding acting.

I would also like to pay tribute to the memory of two members of the
Committee that have left us: Emmanuel Poulle and Jacques Thuillier,
eminent scholars, both greatly appreciated for their requirement
and their commitment to the transmission of knowledge and
culture. A great archivist, paleographer and historian of science, as well as
that one of the greatest historians of French art died this
year. We pay tribute to them today, and I want to pay tribute to their
and the scientific families to which they belonged,
for which they embodied excellence.

I also warmly thank those who are leaving this
the High Committee, as well as the eminent persons who gave
an enthusiastic agreement in principle to replace “starters”: you
ensure a transition that allows the High Committee to
National commemorations to maintain all prestige and competence
he needs.

Upstream of the proliferation of events that are every year
organized in France as part of the national commemorations, there are
a collection, always eagerly awaited, which is the fruit of your work. It attracts
the attention of extremely diverse audiences: local and regional authorities,
journalists, scholarly societies, librarians, teachers, network
French cultural abroad (Alliances françaises, Institut français), but
also prison centers, retirement homes, this collection is the tool of a
shared heritage and a better shared memory. It is
since last year, a smartphone application that has
from its beginnings a great success.

Marguerite Yourcenar says these words to Emperor Hadrian: The
true place of birth is the place where one first wore a
intelligent look at oneself: my first homelands were the
books. Published and distributed free of charge by the Ministry, this
very high level, which benefits from the contribution of the best specialists,
fully honours this civic tradition that Marc Fumaroli designates, in
a beautiful expression where we recognize the great specialist of oratory,
as a “national mnemonic”.

The collection of National Commemorations is an embodiment of paper
cabinet of curiosities. Each reader draws from it, according to his
and its own references, the multiple narratives that constitute
the institutional and political, literary and artistic, scientific and
technical, economic and social heritage.

To commemorate, not to celebrate. If I held to this semantic inflection,
it is because it allows us to suspend value judgments, in order to
to preserve critical reflection on what constitutes our memory
Six centuries ago, Joan of Arc was born in Domrémy, where I
with the President of the Republic this Friday. Fifty
The Algerian War was ending. Cohabiting, in the same collection,
these two major memorials of our history, it is precisely
recall that to commemorate is not to summon vignettes of withdrawal
on oneself, but fragments of universal where wounds and mythologies
must be erased in front of the requirement and the time of understanding.

Every year, our kaleidoscope offers us a new combinatorial,
where scientific discoveries and publications cross paths
revolutionaries, the birth of major artists and thinkers,
events more or less distant, always constitutive of the face of the
French society as it stands today. This patchwork has
always the taste of surprise; and the collection of commemorations we
offers again its batch of memory capsules, in a formidable
assembly worthy of a Chinese catalogue in the Borges, a pioneer of
the psychoanalysis and great reader of Edgar Allan Poe like Marie
Bonaparte to the painter Yves Klein, the disappearance of Gaston Bachelard and the
release of the first issue of Salut les copains! , the beginning of the realization
of the Issenheim altarpiece and the release of Jules and Jim de Truffaut, the
discovered the measurement of the speed of light by Léon Foucault, the
death of the great mathematician Henri Poincaré and the birth of the abbot
Pierre - whose archives and those of Emmaus
Labour World Archives in Roubaix, where I visited yesterday.
Without giving in to the vertigo of the list, I would like to come back to four

2012 will be the year Rousseau, with the commemoration, in France and in
Europe, the tercentenary of his birth and the 250th anniversary of the
publication of two fundamental works of Western thought:
Social contract and Emile or education. These anniversaries will be
the occasion of coordinated events in the field of books, for the
university research, in the heritage field, in the field of
live performance, in the field of the French language also with
the operation conducted under the aegis of the General Delegation for Language
French “Dis-moi dix mots”. I would like to salute the mobilization of the region
Rhône-Alpes to commemorate this contrasting figure of the Enlightenment, which
was able to avoid these «two excesses» that Pascal condemned: «to exclude the
reason, only admit reason.” Both newtonian in his practice of
reason, revolutionary in its political and pre-romantic philosophy
in the writing of the «me», Rousseau, «judge of Jean-Jacques» will have
marked our modernity forever. I look forward to going
at the launch of the year Rousseau, on January 20 in Chambéry, and
musical creation by Philippe Hersant, Les Rêveries, will inaugurate a cycle
The European Union has a very important role to play.

Among the personalities highlighted this year, there will also be the
greater role of democratization and decentralization of the
theatre: Jean Vilar. Pope of the theatre in his Avignon Palace and in the theatre
from Chaillot to Paris which housed the NPT founded in 1920 by Firmin Gémier,
Jean Vilar was himself the «poet of his commitment», and of his
ambition: to breathe an art that withers into antechambers, in
cellars, in living rooms; finally reconciling architecture and poetry
At a time when attendance at theatres is not
continues to grow, the events that accompany the anniversary
of his birth – especially in Sète and at the next festival
of Avignon - will make it possible to emphasize all that we owe him, and the influence
He will have had on cultural policy in France.

After the Year of the Overseas, which allowed us, thanks in particular to its
by Daniel Maximin and his team, to open a
new page of our ultramarine cultural policy, as have
notably attested in Cayenne the States General of Multilingualism in
the French Overseas in Cayenne, which I visited last month, 2012
marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leon Gontran Damascus.
“Three rivers flow through my veins,” wrote the author of Black Label:
the memory of the Guyanese poet is all the more timely in my opinion for
to understand the invaluable cultural contribution of the French Overseas Territories to

You finally know my attachment to art history, to education
artistic and cultural, to which I wanted to give a better visibility to
through the Festival of Art History launched in Fontainebleau last year and
has been an undeniable success. I look forward to
the quality of the events in preparation for the centennial
a great scientist, a man who has contributed so much to this
discipline, notably through his major works on
Renaissance, but also of a man engaged in the debates of the City,
particularly on heritage issues, I want to talk about André Chastel.
Those are some of the examples I wanted to go back to.
briefly. I will come back later to the Year Liszt, which we will
close for the occasion tonight.

Some critical minds were quick to challenge the success of
national commemorations, seeing it as a kind of memorial fever
unproductive, specific to the nations of the old Europe. I see instead
a multitude of manifestations that translate as many desires of
memory, that of a living memory, to which all
scientists, artists, history lovers, associations, and
especially the audiences of these countless events, serving identities

To achieve their research, dissemination and visibility goals,
national commemorations often require energy and
outstanding talents.

As we prepare to commemorate this year Jules
Massenet and Claude Debussy, I would like to thank
warmly the organizers of a cycle of events
copy, which I had the great pleasure of inaugurating a year ago with Géza
Szöcs, my Hungarian counterpart, and Xavier Darcos, President of the Institute
French: I want to talk about the Year Liszt, and its assured commissariat
by Jean-Yves Clément, with the collaboration of Nicolas
Dufetel, its artistic and scientific advisor. With the support of the services
of my ministry, conservatories, the Ministry of Education
of the French Institute, the Hungarian Institute of Paris,
some 400 events, of all kinds, that have
year of tributes to the prince of doubts and ecstatic flashes
revolutionized throughout Europe the musical performance: conferences,
conferences, recordings, exhibitions, publications, promotion of a
archives, and of course concerts, including on October 22
last, the oratorio Christus, given in the Cathedral of St.
Invalids by the Hungarian Radio Choir and Orchestra, under the
direction of Zoltán Peskó.

At the end of the Liszt year, I wished to honour Mr. Jean-Yves Clément and
Nicolas Dufetel.

Dear Jean-Yves Clément,
Your great talent as a writer, biographer, editor but also
artistic director of prestigious festivals in France, make you a
passionate and erudite personality who makes a major contribution to
French cultural life. You have succeeded in this difficult exercise of forcing
the secrets of famous composers like Chopin or Liszt, with a
approach and writing that pays tribute to their memory and to a
musical legacy they left to generations of musicians and

Creator of the «Lisztomanias» of Châteauroux, «Romantiques
D'Ars, artistic director of the festival «Chartres en plain chant», and
Nohant Festival, you are committed to enhancing a heritage
outstanding European music. You also created the Pelléas Prize
which rewards the best literary works devoted to music.
In this regard, Hungary honoured you last December for the role
major you played in the commemoration year in tribute
Franz Liszt. It is my turn to express our gratitude for this season
which was in all respects a success.

Dear Jean-Yves Clément, on behalf of the French Republic,
Let us make Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Nicolas Dufetel,
I am pleased to salute today the work of a young researcher
the history of music and musicology. The
religious music of Liszt and its connections with social history
of the 19th century were the subject of your doctoral thesis at
the Université François Rabelais de Tours, which helped deepen the
knowledge of a major work of our common musical heritage.

Speaker, already recognized by your peers as one of the specialists who
of the European entertainer, you are today a researcher,
for the Humboldt Foundation, at the Institute of Musicology in Weimar-Jena.

Alongside Jean-Yves Clément, you played an essential role in
the organization of the Liszt Year, of which you were the artistic adviser and
wise scientist.

Dear Nicolas Dufetel, on behalf of the French Republic,
let us make Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Almost a year after the magnificent launch concert at headquarters
Erard piano history, with Brigitte Engerer, Adrienne Krausz and
Brigitte Fossey reciting, I am very happy to welcome this young and
talented conductor Clément Mao-Takacs for a concert in
epilogue of the Liszt Year and prologue with composers
commemorations in 2012. His presence tonight and that of the musicians he
leadership is a testament to this necessary connection, which is at the heart of
my department, between heritage and creation, between the repertoire and
innovation, in other words between what we receive and what it
it is up to us to bequeath and transmit.

Thank you.