The Kennedy Center

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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    Meet the Musician: Emil de Cou on Pierre-Laurent Aimard


The temptation to pigeonhole artists can be hard to resist. Throughout Pierre-Laurent Aimard's unique career there are landmarks which might initially invite such a labelling: winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition and his association with that composer's music ever since; being appointed at the age of just 19 by Pierre Boulez to become the Ensemble InterContemporain's solo pianist; Aimard's extremely close collaboration, since the mid-1980s, with Gyorgi Ligeti, including being chosen by the great composer to record his complete works, and being the dedicatee of several of his Etudes. Pierre-Laurent Aimard is without doubt a key figure in the new music world.

But it has always been a driving force in Aimard's professional musical life to explore as broad a range as possible of music from different ages and sources. He continually strives to illuminate the importance of historical, musical and cultural contexts as well as influences between composers both within and between generations and centuries. Through his teaching work at the Paris Conservatoire and at the Hochschule in Cologne as well as through an international programme of concert/lectures (an example being, in the 1994/95 season, a series of 8 concert-lectures in Lyon and Paris presenting a panorama of the piano in the 20th century) he sheds a very personal light on music of the past, present and future.

Born in Lyon, France in 1957, Pierre-Laurent Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatoire where he won four first prizes. He had the opportunity to study with Yvonne Loriod and then Maria Curcio. Now Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs throughout the world each season with the most eminent orchestras and conductors, as well as in recital and chamber music programmes in the most prestigious venues. Current invitations include, for example, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago, Boston and London Symphony, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna and London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductors with whom he is collaborating include Pierre Boulez, Myung Whun Chung, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christoph Eschenbach, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa Pekka Salonen and Franz Welser-Moest.

Recital projects take place throughout the world’s capital cities: his much-awaited debut recital at Carnegie Hall, New York took place in December 2001 to exceptional acclaim, and he is regularly invited to festivals such as Edinburgh, Salzburg, Lucerne and the BBC Proms. He also pursues a number of fascinating chamber music projects each year in the company of such partners as Jean-Guihen Queyras, Joseph Silverstein and Tabea Zimmerman.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard has recorded for DGG, Sony, Erato, Wergo and Lyrinx amongst others and continues to create and record for the television station Arte a series of films focusing on great composers of the 20th century. The first film in this series, featuring Pierre Boulez, was a renowned success. In recent years he has recorded very significantly for Teldec / Warner Classics, including acclaimed performances of Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jesus” and the Turangalila Symphony. Further releases include a live recording of the Dvorak Piano Concerto with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Harnoncourt, plus recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Harnoncourt.

2002/03 season
Photo of Pierre-Laurent Aimard