harmonia mundi, a passion for excellence

Ever since it was founded in 1958, the label has consistently explored new repertories and broadened its horizons, from the early Middle Ages to the music of the twenty-first century. The development of our digital offering and of the harmonia mundi community goes hand in hand with a reinforced presence in the concert sector. The musicians who join us each year are clearly keen to perpetuate the spirit of adventure and the passion for excellence that presided over the birth of the label. In 2022, we welcomed Gustavo Gimeno and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Samuel Hasselhorn (baritone), Romain Leleu (trumpet), and Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas (organ) with his ensemble Les Surprises. In 2023, we will be saying hello to Zahia Zouani and the Divertimento orchestra, the Dichter Trio, and other musicians whose collaboration will be announced shortly.

    Sixty-five years old and as young as ever!

    From 1958 to 2023: still livelier than ever, ‘La Belle Arlésienne’ has produced exclusive albums with around fifty of the most prestigious international artists in the classical music world. You need only look at the music press or television, consult concert programmes, browse YouTube, Instagram, Apple Classical, Spotify and so on.

    But harmonia mundi is also very attentive to the young talents of today, which it nurtures with special fervour. During the 1990s and 2000s, the ‘Nouveaux Musiciens’ series enabled the emergence of Isabelle Faust, Emmanuelle Bertrand, Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Frank Braley and many others. And since 2017, the harmonia nova series has hosted fifteen young talents (singers, instrumentalists or ensembles) from all over the world – an exceptionally promising musical hothouse that can already pride itself on two winners at the Victoires de la Musique Classique (Bruno Philippe, Marie Perbost).

    Music first.

    In 2008, we celebrated ‘fifty years of musical exploration’ with Bernard Coutaz, founder of harmonia mundi. In the many interviews he gave then, he told the story of the label, its early days in pursuit of rare historical organs, the ‘kidnapping’ of Alfred Deller one beautiful evening in July 1970, the label’s role in the ‘Baroque Revolution’ and the international development that followed, which has ending up earned harmonia mundi the title of worldwide ‘label of the year’ several times since the beginning of the 2000s: 2005 (Gramophone), 2017 (Classica), 2018 (Gramophone again), 2021 (Classica again!).

    Between the death of Bernard Coutaz in 2010 and that of his wife Eva Coutaz in 2021, an unprecedented upheaval occurred in the world of recording, often leading to restructurings and mergers that have proved fatal to independent labels.

    It so happens that in the autumn of 2015, when it became part of the [PIAS] group founded by Kenneth Gates and Michel Lambot, harmonia mundi not only joined one of the emblematic companies of the ‘indie’ community, it also had the opportunity to refocus on its primary identity: music production. The label’s stringent editorial policy has adapted successfully to the workings of a new musical economy. Far from withering away, the roster has been considerably strengthened with the arrival of key figures from the world of classical music – pianists, instrumentalists, conductors, ensembles . . .

    De la musique d’abord (Music first!) said harmonia mundi in 1977; ‘Music first!’ proclaimed [PIAS] in 1984 . . . Neither of them could have imagined then that, forty years later, these two major independent players would find themselves together in Arles, on the site of a former monastery founded in the sixth century by Bishop Caesarius.

    High standards and passion

    The consolidation of the label in the heart of the ancient Roman city confirms our desire to pursue and develop our perpetual quest for musical excellence.

    Together we have weathered successive crises for almost ten years, and we feel even stronger today. We have overcome the decline of ‘standard’ physical releases, developed our digital offering . . . and produced beautiful physical objects. We continue to invest our efforts in concerts and live performances: they bear witness to the bubbling vitality of our musicians on all five continents and to the strength of a repertoire in perpetual renewal.

    With this new website, which has been completely redesigned in the light of these multiple developments and which will itself evolve throughout the coming years, we aim to strengthen a community that is anything but virtual. Passionate. Demanding. Loyal. The united community of music lovers and harmonia mundi artists.


    Logo harmonia mundi 1000x1000px

    La Musique est notre Amitié !

    Christian Girardin

    Label Director

    Back to the top