Thomas Bloch is a keyboard artist who plays a remarkable variety of instruments, including the electronic Ondes Martenot, the Hammond Organ, and Benjamin Franklin's Glass Harmonica. He is also a composer; in both capacities he works in a diverse variety of genres.
He attended the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with Jeanne Loriod (sister-in-law of Olivier Messiaen and wife of the inventor of the Ondes Martenot) and other teachersRead more including Marc Honegger, Andrès, Cochet, and Walther. He took an interest in various sorts of rare instruments, including the glass harmonica and the Cristal Baschet. He graduated from the Conservatory with a First Prize.
He was an early participant in the revival of the glass harmonica that followed the introduction in 1982 of an improved design for the instrument by Boston-based German glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner, which uses pure quartz glass in the shape of a cylinder that tapers progressively from wide to narrow bowl shapes. Bloch is a curator of the collection of the Museum of Music at the Cité de la Musique of Paris, and regularly gives concerts using the unusual instruments housed there. He is also Professor of Ondes Martenot at the Strasbourg Conservatory.
He gained considerable attention in 1984 when he performed, by himself, a complete performance of Erik Satie's Vexations, a piano piece that appears short on paper but carries an instruction that it is to be repeated incessantly for twenty-four hours.
He performs in virtually all musical genres, including classical music, music for theater and dance, commercials, jazz, rock, popular song, and light and sound shows. He is also a composer and arranger in many of these genres, and operates a twenty-four-track recording studio.
Since beginning his performing career in the 1980s, he has played well over 1500 concerts and participated in forty compact discs. These include collections of music written for the glass harmonica by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Donizetti and the Ondes Martenot part in Olivier Messiaen's giant symphony Turangalila, both on the Naxos label, and Marcel Landowski's Messe de l'Aurore. He has made records with the Balanescu Quartet, Jacques Chailly, Jad Wio, Phil Minton, Coba (the accordion play for Björk), Philippe Sarde, Lindsay Cooper, Fabrice Di Falco, Rita Mitusko, and Adèle B. He has won the SACEM recording prize, and besides Naxos has appeared on the Columbia, Sony Classical, K 617, TGB and Erol Records labels. He has also won the François de Roubaix First Prize in Composition.
He is a member of several ensembles, including Le Quatour d'Ondes Martenot de Paris, the Bloch-Wilson Piano Duo, the Brussels Virtuosi, Arthur H and the Bachibouzouk Band, Fine Tuning, the John Cage Ensemble, and Cabaret Sauvage. His predilection for ringing sounds has made him a song accompanist for sopranos, and as a composer he has written works for what he calls the "crystal voice" of an all-soprano choir.
He composes under six pseudonyms in addition to his own name. He composed the score of the film The Tango Lesson and several other films, and writes music for spectacles, composing and appearing, for instance, in the festivities opening the EuroDisney theme park in France.
Bloch appears regularly wt the Festival Mondial de l'Image Sous Marine d'Antibes, in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and on various television and radio stations around the world. These include solo performances at La Scala in Milan, the Opéra of Paris, the Festival de la Chaise Dieu, the Pablo Casals Festival, and with the Grenoble Instrumental Ensemble, the Lorraine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Capitole de Toulouse, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Read less
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