About this Artist
Renaissance woman Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life. She is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. The French artist has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist, and as a writer.
Grimaud was born in 1969 in Aix-en-Provence and began her piano studies at the local conservatory with Jacqueline Courtin before going on to work with Pierre Barbizet in Marseille. She was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire at just 13 and won first prize in piano performance a mere three years later. She continued to study with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher until, in 1987, she gave her well-received debut recital in Tokyo. That same year, renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim invited her to perform with the Orchestre de Paris.
Between her debut in 1995 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado and her first performance with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur in 1999 – just two of many notable musical milestones – Grimaud made a wholly different kind of debut: in upper New York State she established the Wolf Conservation Center.
But Grimaud’s engagement doesn’t end there: she is also a member of the organization Musicians for Human Rights, a worldwide network of musicians and people working in the field of music to promote a culture of human rights and social change.
For a number of years, she also found time to pursue a writing career, publishing three books that have appeared in various languages. Her first, Variations Sauvages, appeared in 2003. It was followed in 2005 by Leçons particulières, and in 2013 by Retour à Salem, both semi-autobiographical novels.
It is, however, through her thoughtful and tenderly expressive music-making that Hélène Grimaud most deeply touches the emotions of audiences. Fortunately, they have been able to enjoy her concerts worldwide, thanks to the extensive tours she undertakes as a soloist and recitalist. A committed chamber musician, she has also performed at the most prestigious festivals and cultural events with a wide range of musical collaborators, including Sol Gabetta, Rolando Villazón, Jan Vogler, Truls Mørk, Clemens Hagen, Gidon Kremer, Gil Shaham, and the Capuçon brothers. Her prodigious contribution to and impact on the world of classical music were recognized by the French government when she was admitted into the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (France’s highest decoration) at the rank of Chevalier (Knight).
Hélène Grimaud has been an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2002. Her recordings have been critically acclaimed and awarded numerous accolades, among them the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Choc du Monde de la musique, Diapason d’or, Grand Prix du disque, Record Academy Prize (Tokyo), MIDEM Classic Award, and the Echo Klassik Award.
Her early recordings include Credo and Reflection (both of which feature a number of thematically linked works); a Chopin and Rachmaninoff sonatas disc; a Bartók CD, on which she plays the Third Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez; a Beethoven disc with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Vladimir Jurowski, which was chosen as one of history’s greatest classical music albums in the iTunes “Classical Essentials” series; a selection of Bach’s solo and concerto works, in which she directed the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen from the keyboard; and a DVD release of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Claudio Abbado.
In 2010, Grimaud recorded the solo recital album Resonances, showcasing music by Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók. This was followed in 2011 by a disc featuring Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 19 and 23 as well as a collaboration with singer Mojca Erdmann in Ch’io mi scordi di te? Her next release, Duo, recorded with cellist Sol Gabetta, won the 2013 Echo Klassik Award for “chamber recording of the year,” and her album of the two Brahms piano concertos appeared in September 2013.
This was followed by Water (January 2016), a live recording of performances from tears become… streams become…, the critically acclaimed large-scale immersive installation at New York’s Park Avenue Armory created by Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon in collaboration with Grimaud. Grimaud’s latest album, Memory, was released in September 2018.
She began the 2019/20 season back in the U.S. with performances of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She performed this concerto again with them at Carnegie Hall in October, returning to Europe in between to play the Ravel Concerto with MusicAeterna and Teodor Currentzis in Luxembourg and Munich. In the new year, she joins forces with the Bamberger Symphoniker and Jakub Hrůša for a German tour featuring the Ravel and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20. In March 2020, she takes her new recital program on tour in North America, and in April will give three performances of the Schumann Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck. The season will end with a recital tour based on the Memory repertoire, taking it to venues such as Geneva’s Victoria Hall, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, London’s Barbican Centre, and the Luxembourg Philharmonie.