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Jean-Yves Thibaudet

piano

About this Artist

    For more than three decades, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has performed worldwide, recorded more than 50 albums, and built a reputation as one of today’s finest pianists. He plays a range of solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire—from Beethoven through Liszt, Grieg, and Saint-Saëns to Khachaturian and Gershwin, and to Olivier Messiaen, Qigang Chen, James MacMillan, Richard Dubugnon, and Aaron Zigman. 

   From the very start of his career, he delighted in music beyond the standard repertoire, from jazz to opera, including works that he has transcribed himself for the piano. His profound professional friendships crisscross the globe and have led to spontaneous and fruitful collaborations in film, fashion, and visual art. 

   Thibaudet has a lifelong passion for education and fostering young musical talent. He is the first-ever Artist-in-Residence at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, where he makes his home. In 2017, the school announced the Jean-Yves Thibaudet Scholarships, funded by members of Colburn’s donor community, to provide aid for Music Academy students, whom Thibaudet selects for the merit-based awards, regardless of their instrument choice. 

   Thibaudet records exclusively for Decca; his extensive catalogue has received two Grammy nominations, the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Diapason d’Or, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, the Edison Prize, and Gramophone awards. His most recent album, 2021’s Carte Blanche, features a collection of deeply personal solo piano pieces never before recorded by the pianist. Other highlights from Thibaudet’s catalogue include a 2017 recording of Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop, with whom he previously recorded Gershwin, featuring big band jazz orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, the Concerto in F, and the original version of Variations on I Got Rhythm. In 2016, on the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth, Decca released a box set of Satie’s complete solo piano music performed by Thibaudet—one of the foremost champions of the composer’s works. On his Grammy-nominated recording of the Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 5 (2007), he is joined by Charles Dutoit and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Thibaudet’s Aria—Opera Without Words (2007) features aria transcriptions, some of which are Thibaudet’s own. His other recordings include the jazz albums Reflections on Duke: Jean-Yves Thibaudet Plays the Music of Duke Ellington and Conversations with Bill Evans. 

   Thibaudet has also had an impact on the worlds of fashion, film, and philanthropy. He was soloist on Aaron Zigman’s score for Robin Swicord’s Wakefield; this was the first time that the composer had allowed a pianist other than himself to perform his film work. He was also soloist in Dario Marianelli’s award-winning scores for the films Atonement (which won an Oscar for Best Original Score) and Pride & Prejudice, as well as Alexandre Desplat’s soundtracks for the 2012 film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Wes Anderson’s 2021 film The French Dispatch. He had a cameo in Bride of the Wind, Bruce Beresford’s film on Alma Mahler, and his playing is showcased throughout. In 2004, he served as president of the prestigious charity auction at the Hospices de Beaune. His concert wardrobe is designed by Dame Vivienne Westwood. 

   Thibaudet was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. At 12, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age 15, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and, three years later, the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. Among his numerous commendations is the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique. In 2010, the Hollywood Bowl honored Thibaudet for his musical achievements by inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Previously named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Thibaudet was awarded the title of Officier by the French Ministry of Culture in 2012. In 2020, he was named Special Representative for the promotion of French Creative and Cultural Industries in Romania. He is co-artistic director, with Gautier Capuçon, of the Festival Musique & Vin au Clos Vougeot.