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Hélène Grimaud

Hélène Grimaud

born on 7/11/1969 in Aix-en-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

Hélène Grimaud

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Hélène Grimaud (born 7 November 1969) is a French classical pianist and the founder of the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York.

Early life and education

Hélène Grimaud was born in Aix-en-Provence, France. She described family nationalities in a New York Times interview with John Rockwell: "My father came from a background of Sephardic Jews in Africa, and my mother's ancestors were Jewish Berbers from Corsica."[1][2] Her father was adopted as a child by a French family and he became a university tutor teaching languages.[3] According to Luc Antonini[4] her surname is typical of the region of Trets in Provence.[5][6][7]

She has stated that, as a child, she was often "agitated".[8] She discovered the piano at age nine.[2] In 1982, she entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where she studied with Jacques Rouvier. In 1985, she won 1st Prize at the Conservatory and the Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros for her recording of the Rachmaninoff Piano Sonata No. 2.

She experiences synesthesia, where one physical sense adds to another, in her case seeing music as colour, which helps her with memorising music scores.[9]


In 1987, she launched her professional career with a solo recital in Paris and a performance with the Orchestre de Paris under Daniel Barenboim.

She performed at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in London in September 2008, playing the piano part of Beethoven's Choral Fantasia.

Critical reception

Critics have praised Grimaud's willingness to reinterpret works and take chances, and compared her to Glenn Gould:

Grimaud doesn't sound like most pianists: she is a rubato artist, a reinventor of phrasings, a taker of chances. "A wrong note that is played out of élan, you hear it differently than one that is played out of fear," she says. She admires the "more extreme players . . . people who wouldn't be afraid to play their conception to the end." Her two overriding characteristics are independence and drive, and her performances attempt, whenever possible, to shake up conventional pianistic wisdom. Brian Levine, the executive director of the Glenn Gould Foundation, sees in Grimaud a resemblance to Gould: "She has this willingness to take a piece of music apart and free herself from the general body of practice that has grown up around it."[10]

Personal life

In 1991, at age 21, Grimaud moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to be near a boyfriend who taught bassoon at Florida State University.[2] In 1997, she settled in Westchester County, north of New York City. After some time spent in Berlin,[11] she currently resides in Switzerland.[12]

She has a passion for wolves, which she studies and raises. She now divides her time between her musical career and the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, which she co-founded with her former companion, photographer J. Henry Fair.[13][14]


  • Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2002).
  • National Order of Merit (France) (16 May 2008)[15].
  • Legion of Honour (3 April 2015)[16].


On Denon[A]
  • Rachmaninoff Piano Sonata No. 2, Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33 (1986)
  • Chopin Ballade No. 1, Liszt Après une Lecture de Dante, Schumann Sonata for Piano (1987)
  • Schumann Kreisleriana, Brahms Piano Sonata No. 2 (1989)
  • Brahms Piano Sonata No. 3, Klavierstücke (1992)
  • Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Ravel Piano Concerto (1993)
On Erato
  • Schumann Piano Concerto, Richard Strauss Burleske (1995)
  • Brahms Piano Pieces Op. 116–119 (1996)
  • Gershwin Piano Concerto, Ravel Piano Concerto (1997)
  • Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 (1998)
On Teldec
  • Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4, Piano Sonata No. 30, Piano Sonata No. 31 (1999)
  • Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Prelude Op. 32/12, Études-Tableaux Op. 33/1, 2 and 9, Variations on a Theme of Corelli (2001)
On Deutsche Grammophon
  • Credo John Corigliano Fantasia on an Ostinato, Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 17 "Tempest", Choral Fantasy, Arvo Pärt Credo (2003)
  • Chopin | Rachmaninoff (2005)
  • Bartók The Piano Concertos (on the third) (2005)
  • Reflection Schumann Piano Concerto, Various by Brahms and Clara Schumann (2006)
  • Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor", Piano Sonata No. 28 (2007)
  • Bach Various (2008)
  • Resonances Mozart: Sonata No. 8, Berg: Sonata op.1, Liszt: Sonata in B minor, Bartok: Romanian Folk Dances (2010)
  • Mozart Piano Concerto No. 19, Piano Concerto No. 23, Ch'io mi scordi di te? (with Mojca Erdmann, soprano) (2011)
  • Duo (with Sol Gabetta, cello) Works by Schumann, Brahms, Debussy, and Shostakovich (2012)
  • Brahms Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 with the Bavarian Radio SO and Vienna PO, conducted by Andris Nelsons (2013)
  • Water Various (with Nitin Sawhney) (2016)
On Philips
  • Schumann Sonata for Violin and Piano in A minor, Op. 105, Gidon Kremer violin and Helene Grimaud piano. Recording date: 7/1989. Release: Lockenhaus Festival 1982–1992 A Decade of Music-Making (1997)
On ACA Digital Recording, Inc
  • Bassoon Music Of The Americas, Composers on Bassoon Music Of The Americas: Alvin Etler, Waldir Azevedo, Jose Siqueira, Magda Santos/Pó, Pixinguinha, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Willson Osborne. Jeff Keesecker – bassoon & Hélène Grimaud – piano (2002)


  • Variations sauvages (2003, published in English as Wild Harmonies)
  • Leçons particulières (2005)
  • Retour à Salem (2013)
  • D.T. Max, "Her way: A pianist of strong opinions", New Yorker 87/35 (7 November 2011), 58–65.

Notes and references


  1. ^ The complete Denon recordings have been released in a box by Brilliant Classics.


  1. ^ Hélène Grimaud Biography – Discography, Music, Lyrics, Album, CD, Career, Famous Works, and Awards
  2. ^ a b c Rockwell, John (29 May 1994). "Sacre Bleu! Don't Call Her French, Or Even Female". New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  3. ^ Interview with Pianist Hélène Grimaud French pianist saved by music – and wolves by Peter Culshaw, The Telegraph, 11 November 2002
  4. ^ Luc Antonini, 100 aixois, qui sont-ils ? d'où viennent-ils ? qu'ont-ils fait ?, par Luc Antonini (Septèmes-les-Vallons 2012)
  5. ^ Isnard Grimaud, born in Trets around 1450, husband of Catherine Aubert, son : Jean Grimaud born in Trets around 1489...
  6. ^ "Genestar:Helene Grimaud"
  7. ^ Repartition of the surname Grimaud in France
  8. ^ Peter Culshaw, "The pianist who's leader of the pack". Telegraph, 11 November 2002.
  9. ^ New Yorker Profile by D. T. Max: "Her Way, A pianist of strong opinions", 7 November 2011
  10. ^ New Yorker Profile by D. T. Max: "Her Way, A pianist of strong opinions", 7 November 2011
  11. ^ Biographie: Hélène Grimaud, documentary by Alix François Meier, 2006 Archived 16 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Hélène Grimaud, une carrière faite de rencontre (biography in French) by Arnaud Schwartz, La Croix, 2008
  13. ^ James R. Oestreich, "A Pianist Harmonizes With Wolves". New York Times, 5 November 2006.
  14. ^ "History". Wolf Conservation Center.
This page was last modified 27.09.2018 21:23:38

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