Musical Promenade in Paris

Talk with music and illustrations


Paris and Cape Town


France, and particularly Paris, has been second home for Desmond Colborne for most of his life. After school and university in South Africa, then at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and a spell as a journalist with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, he has had various jobs in France – tour organiser for American Express, teacher in a training college in Montpellier and for 30 years Paris director of the business leadership organisation, the South Africa Foundation. He interacted with many political and business leaders, such as President Mitterrand, President Chirac, Hubert Beuve-Mery, founder of Le Monde newspaper, Jean-Francois Revel, Academie Française, Jean Paul Sartre and the novelist Robbe-Grillet. He often appeared on French television, notably as a commentator at the liberation of Nelson Mandela (whom he later met on several occasions). He has written numerous articles on France for a range of publications and has written a book on South Africa. Lectures have included assignments on Seabourn cruises and Alliances Françaises in South Africa and Boston. For 25 years he has lectured on French topics at the University of Cape Town Summer School, most recently on the proposed Musical Promenade through Paris.


A MUSICAL PROMENADE THROUGH PARIS Mozart to Montand, Puccini to Piaf. Paris has, throughout the centuries, inspired so much music, ranging from classical to popular, from ethereal to “ooh-la-la”. This talk will criss-cross between sights and sounds, Parisian places celebrated in song - boulevards, cabarets, cafés, restaurants (Maxims), the river Seine. The role of music in Parisian life is illustrated by works of artists like Manet, Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse. Composers like Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin all spent time in Paris and expressed its spirit. You will hear extracts from their music and from songs by musical stars like Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Charles Aznavour and Yves Montand. Following in these footsteps, the talk will be a sight-and-sound saunter, evoking in the words of Charles Trenet’s song, “La romance de Paris”.


Preferably June, but negotiable


Enough to cover travelling and accommodation and expenses for me and my wife/collaborator, Marianne. Cachet?

Technical Requirements

Have laptop and VGA cable, but need video projector, screen and loudspeakers.

Contact person



100 rue St Honore, 75001 Paris


+33142338303 or +27214383103