110 years ago, on January 23 1910, jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt was born in Liberchies in Belgium.
Born into a travelling gipsy family, Django Reinhardt learned to play the violin and the banjo at an early age by observing the musicians who played in the camp. When he was 18 years old, the family caravan caught fire and he lost two fingers of his left hand. But with determination, Django developed a new technique that enabled him to play the guitar despite this handicap. In the 1930s he discovered jazz, which he went on to associate with gipsy music, and he is now considered to be the inventor of gipsy jazz, a totally different style of jazz that was to gain a following among younger generations of musicians.
Robert Pernet, a collector and historian of Belgian jazz, safeguarded a significant part of Django Reinhardt’s work. His collection brought together archives, music magazines, programmes and photos that trace the development of jazz in Belgium. When Robert Pernet died in 2002, the King Baudouin Foundation purchased his impressive music collection and entrusted it to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels.