Montreux Jazz archives have acquired UNESCO heritage status
The Montreux Jazz Festival’s archives are now part of the Memory of the World register. UNESCO has just announced their decision. For its part, EPFL continues the archives’ digitization and enhancement operations.
With more than 5,000 hours of live audio and video recordings, the Montreux Jazz Festival’s audiovisual collection is an authentic gold mine. Among its contents it treasures the only video recording of a Marvin Gaye concert as well as Miles Davis’ last public performance. UNESCO has selected these archives to become part of the Memory of the World program.
EPFL is in charge of the collections’ digitization and enhancement. To date, more than half of the audio and video documents have been digitized and stored in the school’s servers. Moreover, many of the school research groups are developing innovative technologies to make the best possible use of these exceptional archives e.g.: extraction algorithms -which enable isolating a particular musician’s solos- search interfaces, space acoustic modulation etc.
Such a project has been made possible by the collaboration of: EPFL, the Montreux Jazz Festival, Audemars Piguet – a supporter from the outset – and the Ernst Goehner Foundation. Eventually, the archives will be available in Montreux Jazz Cafes in Geneva, London and Zurich, as well as at EPFL’s campus. Indeed, the school will house a space dedicated to the festival in a future pavilion that will be located on its central square.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World’s program aims at highlighting the most significant documentary heritage in our history. The recognition given to the festival’s archives lies precisely in their historical value, as Montreux Jazz has been an exceptional witness of the music of the 20th century.