Exhibition «Boris Vian | En avant la musique!»

From 16 June to 2 September 2018 
– extended until 30 September 2018 –

Tuesday to Friday, 2 – 6 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am – 6 pm

An artist with a rich gift for invention, a spontaneous musician, a protean author of novels, short stories, and translations, as well as newspaper columns, songs, librettos, and shows for the theater and musical reviews, Boris Vian (1920-1959) left his stamp on his age and the heirs to his fanciful, iconoclastic, untrammeled genius.

Although Vian trained as an engineer, his talents steered him to writing and music, both of which were cultivated during a childhood steeped in the arts. Starting in 1933, his first “jazz impression” when he discovered Duke Ellington opened up a new world for the youth to explore regularly and to be intensely experienced throughout his short life, from concerts to the albums he collected in thrall to a passion he shared with his brothers, and from his first surprise parties at his family home to the wild nights in Paris’s hottest venues for swing music. The appropriately named “Prince of Saint-Germain-des-Prés” did not just play the trumpet and the eighteen-turn Hinkle horn, he was an important spokesman and teacher for jazz culture. A man with an excellent ear for spotting new talent and an inexhaustible critic, both erudite and insolent, Vian was a contributor to a range of reviews, including the famous Jazz Hot. And as publisher, artistic director, and impresario, he promoted a number of jazz greats like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bix Beiderbecke, and thrust the avant-garde of Bebop to center stage in France.

This music proved essential to Vian and imprinted its tempo and influences even on his literary works. Following L’écume des jours (in English translation, Froth on a Daydream), when publishing failures arrived with cruel regularity, he wrote songs by the hundreds. Some were performed by their creator, accompanied on the piano by Alain Goraguer, but most were given voice by great performers like Magali Noël, Marcel Mouloudji, Henri Salvador, Juliette Gréco, and Michel Legrand, in Vian’s lifetime, and Serge Reggiani, Jacques Higelin, Renaud, Maurane, Arthur H, Olivia Ruiz, M, and others since his death.

Through numerous archival documents, photographs, recordings, manuscripts, and original editions, Boris Vian: En avant la musique ! (Boris Vian: Hit It!) offers a visual and aural journey that takes in all the facets of Boris Vian the musician, beyond the man of letters, the virtuoso jazz writer and prodigious poet of language and musical licks.

Curator: Nicole Bertolt, representative of the artist’s work and director of the Boris Vian legacy

Document collection: Cohérie Boris Vian

General Opening

Friday 15 June 2018 at 6:30 pm with Alain Goraguer Trio and Jelly Bump !

Free admission


Dates from 16 June to 2 September 2018 – extended until 30 September 2018 –

Closed on Monday 17 September 2018

Opening hours Tuesday to Friday, 2 – 6 pm ǀ Saturday and Sunday, 9 am – 6 pm

Admission CHF 5.- (full price) ǀ CHF 3.- (students, groups, retirees, unemployed, disabled persons) ǀ free for children under 18 and residents of Montricher

Guided tours of the show

Sunday 17 June at 3 pm by Nicole Bertolt, curator
Saturday 23 June at 3 pm by Nicole Bertolt, curator
Saturday 14 July at 3 pm
Sunday 12 August at 3 pm
Saturday 29 September at 3 pm by Nicole Bertolt, curator

Free with your admission ticket | No reservations required


Literary concert

Saturday 16 June at 7 pm – SOLD OUT

Denis Podalydès | Daniel Mille | Piazzolla on texts by Boris Vian, Jules Laforgue, Allain Leprest, Jacques Prévert, Gaston Miron, Robert Desnos…

Admission CHF 20.- (full price), CHF 15.- (retirees, disabled persons), CHF 10.- (students) | SOLD OUT

Fête de la musique on a theme by Boris Vian

Thursday 21 June at 7 pm

Médéric Collignon | Yvan Robilliard Duo

The staggeringly gifted cornet player and 2008 winner of the highly coveted Django Reinhardt Prize for the jazz musician of the year, Médéric Collignon is one of the most gobsmacking artists of his generation. He will be performing here alongside Yvan Robilliard, a young pianist and composer who displays a jaw-dropping mastery of the keyboard and was drawn to jazz and improvisation while practically in short pants. 


A musicodelirious performance around a marvelous instrument that concocts cocktails to the sound of melodies, dreamed up by Boris Vian in his novel L’écume des jours, constructed by the ingenious Nicolas Schenkel, and played by his sister Géraldine.

Free admission ǀ No reservations required

A literary and musical evening
La prochaine fois je vous chanterai Boris Vian by Philippe Meyer

Friday 22 June at 7 pm

Writer, columnist, radio host and amused observer of the way the wide world spins, Philippe Meyer deploys his unmistakable talents as a raconteur to probe and perform the texts and music of a Boris Vian, the multifaceted artist he has long been familiar with and a true brother in spirit.

Admission: CHF 10.- | Reservations required, contact rencontre@fondation-janmichalski.ch

For the family
En avant la musique avec Boris Vian ! (Hit it! with Boris Vian)

Wednesday 27 June from 2 – 4 pm
Wednesday 22 August from 2 – 4 pm
Wednesday 12 September 2-4 pm

A playful discovery of the musical worlds of Boris Vian for the whole family. Children 7 and older, accompanied by an adult

Open to the public | Reservations at mediation@fondation-janmichalski.ch, please make sure to specify on which date you would like to attend

Rimendo joue Boris Vian

Friday 13 July at 7 pm

Rimendo stops time in its plodding tracks to return us to the ‘40s and ‘50s, to the age of the Paris jazz clubs of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where the group sketches out a lively musical portrait of Boris Vian through well-known texts and other neglected gems.

Admission CHF 10.- | Reservations required, contact concert@fondation-janmichalski.ch