Django Reinhardt (1910–53) numbers among the most esteemed jazz musicians of the 20th century. Born into a Manouche family in Belgium, he spent much of his youth in the Paris region learning to play the guitar, the violin and an instrument known as the banjo-guitar.
After surviving a fire in 1928 that permanently injured his left hand and arm, Reinhardt adapted his performance techniques to overcome this handicap and was eventually appointed the leader of the Quintet du Hot Club de France. With the Quintet and other ensembles and as a soloist, he achieved international fame from the 1930s onwards. Reinhardt interpreted contemporary American and French jazz works while composing his own, even during the Nazi occupation of Paris in the mid-1940s. Following the war, he embarked on a tour of the United States at the invitation of Duke Ellington. He continued performing and recording in Europe until his death from a stroke in 1953.
Django Reinhardt is credited as the progenitor of ‘jazz manouche’, a genre that developed in the 1970s and is now played worldwide.