Jean-Yves Thibaudet :: Biography

Jean-Yves Thibaudet was born on September 7 1961, in Lyon, France. His father played the violin, and his mother, a pianist herself, introduced the instrument to Jean-Yves.

Thibaudet entered the Lyons Conservatory at the age of five, and began seriously studying the piano with several prominent teachers. He made his first public appearance at the age of seven. He won a Lyons Conservatory gold medal in 1974, when he was twelve, and subsequently entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves. Three years later, he won the premier Prix du Conservatoire, and at the age of 18 he won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York.

He has performed with most of the world's leading symphonic orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France, among others. He also performs in the great concert halls of Europe and North America and is quite fond of traveling to Australia, where he has a strong fan base. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2010.Thibaudet's virtuosity is such that he even impressed the great Vladimir Horowitz, who called a performance he heard on the radio of Thibaudet playing Liszt "amazing."

Among his collaborators in performances and recordings are soprano Renee Fleming, mezzo-sopranos Cecilia Bartoli and Angelika Kirchschlager, violist Yuri Bashmet, violinists Joshua Bell and Julia Fischer, cellists Truls Mork, Daniel Muller-Schott, and Gautier Capucon, and the Rossetti String Quartet. He also commissioned a piano concerto from James MacMillan, which he premiered with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2011.

Thibaudet has made more than 50 recordings, most for the British label Decca Records. His last album was a box set of Thibaudet's recordings of all of Erik Satie's complete works for solo piano, released on the composer's 150th birthday.

He is particularly well-known for his interpretations of French classical music but has also made forays into the world of jazz as well, playing arrangements and transcriptions of improvisations on the CDs Conversations with Bill Evans (1997) and Reflections on Duke (1999).

Thibaudet is also known for his recordings of opera transcriptions. In 1993, he recorded arrangements of extracts from operas by Franz Liszt and Busoni. In 2007, Thibaudet released a CD entitled Aria: Opera Without Words, in which he selected several of his favorite arias and overtures, including some of his own transcriptions and those of Yvar Mikhashoff. He has since recorded a disc of Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 5 by Camille Saint-Saens (with Dutoit and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, released in October 2007), and a disc of Gershwin works for piano and orchestra in Grofe's arrangements (released March 2010).

His playing can be heard on the movie soundtracks of The Portrait of a Lady, Bride of the Wind, Pride & Prejudice, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Atonement, the latter of which earned an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

In 2001, the French Republic made Thibaudet a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2012 he was elevated to the grade of Officier.

A Conversation With Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Read Jazz Roots Rhythms interview with Jean-Yves Thibaudet about his CD Conversations with Bill Evans here.