8 Things You May Not Know About Jean-Yves Thibaudet

March 15, 2023

The Gilmore welcomes French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet Thursday, March 30, at 7:30 PM at Stetson Chapel on the Kalamazoo College campus, playing Debussy’s Préludes, Book I and II.

Here are a few things you may not know about Jean-Yves Thibaudet. 

  1. You have likely heard Jean-Yves play on one of many award-winning film scores, including AtonementExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The French Dispatch, Portrait of a Lady, and Pride and Prejudice.
  2. Jean-Yves loves fashion. His concert wardrobe has been designed by the trend-setting designer, the late Dame Vivienne Westwood. 
  3. As with many great artists, his talent appeared early: he began studying the piano at age 5 at the Conservatoire de Lyon, and made his first public appearance at the age of seven.
  4. In an interview with Living the Classical Life, Jean-Yves tells of meeting the legendary Polish pianist Arthur Rubenstein (1887-1982) when he was a child. “I met him when I was five, and again when I was seven. The last time, I sat on his lap for about 15 minutes. He was the nicest, warmest man, so adorable, so sweet and so generous. He asked ‘What do you really want to do?’ and I said ‘I want to be a pianist and play concerts all over the world like you do.’ And he said, ‘Remember, the most important thing is the audience. We don’t exist without them. They buy the tickets, they buy the recordings, you have to take time for your audience.’ Those things resonate with me today, so every time I play, I like to meet whoever is there, they all are important people to me.” 
  5. The incomparable Vladimir Horowitz said of Thibaudet in 1987, “I heard on the radio a Liszt record, the Faust Waltz, played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet. It was amazing, such dexterity, such technique, such articulation, such command. I could not do that today.” 
  6. Thibaudet is playing this season with colleagues including Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Emanuel Ax. As in Kalamazoo, he is playing Debussy’s Préludes in Switzerland, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and throughout the U.S., including Carnegie Hall. 
  7. Well-known for his interpretations of French classical music, Thibaudet has also made forays into the world of jazz, playing arrangements and transcriptions of improvisations on the CDs Conversations with Bill Evans (1997) and Reflections on Duke (1999).
  8. Jean-Yves was the first ever artist-in-residence at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

“Every note Thibaudet fashions is a pearl… the joy, brilliance and musicality of his performance could not be missed.” – The New York Times                   

We hope you’ll join us in person on March 30, 2023 at 7:30 PM. 

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