For more than three decades, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has performed world-wide, 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 has delighted in music beyond the standard repertoire, from jazz to opera, including works which 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.
Despite the unprecedented disruptions affecting all concert artists’ touring plans during the 2020-21 season, Thibaudet’s audiences will have an opportunity in future seasons – if not this one — to hear a rich array of programs and projects, many of which have had to be rescheduled. These include an international recital tour of Debussy’s Préludes. In honor of Decca’s rerelease of his landmark 1996 recording, he will play the complete Préludes in solo recitals around the world, with dates in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, and throughout Asia.
One of the foremost interpreters of Ravel and Gershwin, Thibaudet will journey across Germany and France performing Ravel’s Concerto in G and Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm Variations with Antonio Pappano and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as concerts with the Jacksonville and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta, Detroit and Indianapolis Symphonies, the Minnesota Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony. Two of his other signature pieces—Saint-Saëns’s Concerto No. 5 (“Egyptian”), and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 (“Age of Anxiety”)—are programmed with the Chicago and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras and the New York Philharmonic.
Thibaudet will also spend future seasons revisiting old musical friendships, while sowing the seeds for new ones. Planned programs include Beethoven’s complete sonatas for violin and piano on tour with Midori, including a complete cycle in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. He also continues his collaboration with cellist Gautier Capuçon and violinist Lisa Batiashvili, whom he will join in performances across Europe, the United States and Canada.
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 will select for the merit-based awards, regardless of their instrument choice.
Thibaudet’s recording 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. In 2017 he released to great acclaim 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 Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerti Nos. 2&5, released in 2007, he is joined by Charles Dutoit and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Thibaudet’s Aria–Opera Without Words, which was released the same year, 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 and Prejudice, as well as Alexandre Desplat’s soundtracks for the 2012 film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Wes Anderson’s upcoming film The French Dispatch. He had a cameo in Bruce Beresford’s film on Alma Mahler, Bride of the Wind, 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.
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, 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 a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Thibaudet was awarded the title 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.