One of today’s most sought-after soloists, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has the rare ability to combine poetic musical sensibilities and dazzling technical prowess. His talent at coaxing subtle and surprising colors and textures from each work he plays has led The New York Times to write that “every note he fashions is a pearl…the joy, brilliance and musicality of his performance could not be missed.” Thibaudet, who brings natural charisma and remarkable musical depth to his career, has performed around the world for more than 30 years and recorded more than 50 albums.
The 2013-2014 season is a fascinating blend for which Thibaudet always strives: a balance of orchestral appearances, chamber music and recitals and a repertoire that this season runs from the early 19th century to the present day, from the familiar to the little-known. He begins in Asia with works by two giants of 20th-century American music, performing Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with the Seoul Philharmonic, and then appearing as soloist in Bernstein’s Second Symphony, “The Age of Anxiety,” with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the China Philharmonic in Beijing. Thibaudet travels from China to Australia, where he plays the Gershwin concerto, first in Perth with the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra, and then with the Sydney Symphony. He begins the new year in Europe, performing Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with NDR Hamburg, and follows that with duo with mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager in Spain and at London’s storied Wigmore Hall. With the Bahia Orchestra, Thibaudet makes a seven-city tour in the United States, performing Ravel’s Concerto in G, which, like the Gershwin F Major piano concerto, dates from the 1920s. He performs Beethoven’s final piano concerto, the towering “Emperor,” with the Honolulu Symphony and with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In sharp contrast, Thibaudet plays James MacMillan’s Third Piano Concerto—which he premiered in 2011—with both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony.
Thibaudet gives two all-Debussy recitals in his native France, in Bordeaux and Nancy, and turns to a seldom-heard work by another of his countrymen, Maurice Ravel: composed in 1896 in Luxor, where Ravel often spent the winter, the Piano Concerto No. 5 is known as “The Egyptian.” Thibaudet performs it first with the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Spanish National Orchestra. With two North American enesembles, The San Francisco Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Thibaudet is a soloist in Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings. On a spring tour with WDR Cologne, he performs both the Shostakovich and an American work from the same period, the Gershwin Piano Concerto in F. Thibaudet completes the season with a flourish, performing the Ravel concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe at London’s Barbican Centre,in celebration of maestro Bernard Haitink’s 85th birthday, and the Saint-Saens concerto with the Orchestre de Paris and the Bremen Philharmonic.
A distinguished recording artist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has won the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique, a Gramophone Award, two Echo awards and the Edison Prize. In 2010, he released Gershwin, featuring big jazz band orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, variations on “I Got Rhythm” and Concerto in F live with the Baltimore Symphony and music director Marin Alsop. On his Grammy-nominated recording Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerti Nos. 2&5, released in 2007, Thibaudet is joined by long-standing collaborator Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Thibaudet’s Aria—Opera Without Words, which was rleased the same year, features transcriptions of arias by Saint-Saëns, R. Strauss, Gluck, Korngold, Bellini, J. Strauss II, Grainger, and Puccini; some of the transcriptions are by Mikhashoff, Sgambati and Brassin, and others are Thibaudet’s own. Among his other recordings are Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music and the jazz albums Reflections on Duke: Jean-Yves Thibaudet Plays the Music of Duke Ellington and Conversations With Bill Evans, his tribute to two of jazz history’s legends.
Known for his style and elegance on and off the traditional concert stage, Thibaudet has had an impact on the world of fashion, film and philanthropy. His concert wardrobe is by celebrated London designer Vivienne Westwood. In 2004, he served as president of the prestigious Hospices de Beaune, an annual charity auction in Burgundy, France. He had an onscreen cameo in the Bruce Beresford feature film on Alma Mahler, Bride of the Wind, and his playing is showcased throughout the soundtrack. Thibaudet was the soloist on Dario Marianelli’s Oscar- and Golden Globe-award winning score for the film Atonement and his Oscar-nominated score for Pride and Prejudice. He recorded the soundtrack of the 2012 film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, composed by Alexandre Desplat. He was also featured in the 2000 PBS/Smithsonian special Piano Grand!, a piano performance program hosted by Billy Joel to pay tribute to the 300th anniversary of the piano.
Jean-Yves 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 twelve, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Ravel. At age fifteen, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and, three years later, won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001, the Republic of France awarded Thibaudet the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2002, he was awarded the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy for his artistic achievements and his long-standing involvement with the festival. In 2007, he was awarded the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique. The Hollywood Bowl honored Thibaudet for his musical achievements by inducting him into its Hall of Fame in 2010. Previously a Chevalier of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Thibaudet was promoted to the title of Officier by the French Minister of Culture in 2012.