Hélène Grimaud


Born: Nov 7, 1969; France  
Hélène Grimaud is a pianist who defies feminine stereotypes. Her favored repertory has been Brahms, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Schumann, and Liszt, not the less muscular music of Mozart (which she didn't perform until she was 21), Poulenc, or Chopin. From her early twenties on, Grimaud's lush sound and sweeping interpretations drew comparisons to such pianists as Martha Argerich and Jorge Bolet.

Although born in France,
Read more Grimaud has not identified herself with French culture and music. She is of North African, Corsican, and Italian Jewish heritage (her family changed its name from Grimaldi before she was born), and from her early adulthood she has been based in the United States.

An "agitated and agitating" child by her own admission, Grimaud started studying the piano at nine with Jacqueline Courtin of the Aix Conservatoire, simply as a channel for her surplus energy. After only three years, she was able to play Schumann's Papillons, the first movement of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata, and Fauré's Barcarolle No. 5 impressively, and after further lessons with Pierre Barbizet in Marseilles, she entered the Paris Conservatory at 13. In Paris, as an impatient and rebellious student of Jacques Rouvier, Genevieve Joy, and Christian Ivaldi, she insisted on learning repertory at a faster pace than the conservatory system allowed; on her own, she arranged to play the Chopin Concerto in F minor with the conservatory orchestra back in Aix when she was 14. Rouvier, impressed, gave a tape of that concert to a producer for Denon and that company, initially not realizing that Grimaud was in her early teens, recorded her in Rachmaninov's Sonata No. 2 and Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33. That CD garnered a Grand Prix du Disque; Grimaud was only 16. On the strength of that and a French radio broadcast, in 1987 she began playing concerts outside the conservatory, including an engagement at age 18 with Daniel Barenboim and the Orchestre de Paris (only her fourth public concert).

She maintains friendships with Barenboim, Martha Argerich, and Gidon Kremer and greatly admires the work of Vladimir Horowitz and Glenn Gould, yet she is never as prone to waywardness as those musicians. Grimaud does share Gould's fascination with clear counterpoint and Argerich's and Kremer's general intensity. Yet her treatment of Brahms, for example, avoids attention-getting extremes of tempo and instead follows what she has called a "pulsation that's very close to the ideal heartbeat," while also clarifying the textures. She is willing to take risks in performance, but only those that illuminate the music rather than spotlight the soloist. In Rachmaninov, she emphasizes what she calls the music's "nobility of heart" and lyricism rather than its virtuosity. She has said that she tired of flashy pieces like Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies as a teenager and in her twenties, started to focus especially on such monolithic Austro-Germanic composers as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Berg. She has continued a busy schedule of international performances with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the London Symphony, focusing on concertos of Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Brahms, Schumann, Ravel, and Bartók. As a recitalist she has toured with repertoire including the works of Arvo Pärt, John Corigliano, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms. Grimaud cites an appearance at The Last Night of the Proms in 2008 as a personal highlight of her career.

Grimaud is extremely private, but her known eccentricities are no more extreme than a habit of learning music mostly by running it through her head rather than drilling it into her fingers. Perhaps it is this technique that has led to her concentration on overall musical line and color rather than moment-to-moment virtuosity. Grimaud took a university degree in animal behavior by correspondence, intending to be a biologist if music didn't work out. Since 1991, when she settled in the United States, her primary non-musical interest has been wolf conservation involving the preservation of wolves in their natural habitat as a critical element of biodiversity. To this end, she established the educational non-profit Wolf Conservation Center in upstate New York, where she has lived since 1997.

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Browse 1-25 of 53 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Memory / Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002905102 Release Date: 09/21/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    CD: $19.99
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  • 2.
    Debussy: Peaceful Piano
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4798501 Release Date: 01/12/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Seong-Jin Cho,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Alfons Kontarsky  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 3.
    Piano Masters
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002732802 Release Date: 10/06/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Daniil Trifonov,  Evgeny Kissin,  Krystian Zimerman,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Valery Gergiev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
    CD: $15.99
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  • 4.
    Perspectives / Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002643402 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Béla Bartók,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    CD: $22.49
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  • 5.
    The Complete Chopin: Deluxe Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002599300 Release Date: 12/16/2016   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Jan Lisiecki,  Anatol Ugorski,  Maurizio Pollini  ... 
    Conductor:  Krystian Zimerman,  Krzysztof Urbanski,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Festival Orchestra,  NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
    CD: $144.99
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  • 6.
    50 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002596702 Release Date: 12/02/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Bedrich Smetana,  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  David Garrett,  Hélène Grimaud,  Max Richter,  Daniel Hope  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel,  Rafael Kubelik,  Herbert von Karajan,  André de Ridder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin  ... 
    CD: $22.49
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  • 7.
    Mozart: The Singles
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002576902 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Josef Triebensee,  André Rieu
    Performer:  Andras Schiff,  Barry Tuckwell,  Joshua Bell,  Erik Smith  ... 
    Conductor:  Willi Boskovsky,  James Levine,  Sandor Végh,  Peter Maag  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Members of the Netherlands Wind Ensemble,  Amsterdam Mozart Players,  Vienna Mozart Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    American Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556702 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Leonard Bernstein,  Samuel Barber,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Performer:  Wayne Marshall,  Peter Donohoe,  Hélène Grimaud,  Sabine Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Wayne Marshall,  Simon Rattle,  David Zinman,  Paavo Järvi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
    CD: $16.99
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  • 9.
    Piano Daydreams / Argerich, Barenboim, Lang
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002529802 Release Date: 08/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Marc Luisada,  Dino Ciani,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $6.99
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  • 10.
    100 Best Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 556480 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Barry Tuckwell,  Mikhail Rudy,  Maria-Joao Pires  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Kent Nagano,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Alberto Lysy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Lysy,  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 11.
    111: The Violin – Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002523902 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 42
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Giya Kancheli,  Arvo Pärt  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Shmuel Ashkenasi,  Hélène Grimaud,  Giuliano Carmignola  ... 
    Conductor:  Heribert Esser,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Andrea Marcon,  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Venice Baroque Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $207.49
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  • 12.
    Water / Helene Grimaud (Limited Edition)
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002483102 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luciano Berio,  Nitin Sawhney,  Toru Takemitsu,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud,  Nitin Sawhney
    CD: $22.49
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  • 13.
    Mozart's Magical Night
    Label: Atlantic Crossing   Catalog: 5 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kim Maerkl
    Performer:  Jennifer Larmore,  Hélène Grimaud,  Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 14.
    Pierre Boulez - 20th Century
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002250902 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 44
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Harrison Birtwistle,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  John Tomlinson,  John Aler,  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Martyn Brabbins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $342.49
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  • 15.
    Helene Grimaud: The Complete Warner Classics Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 4622737 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Kurt Sanderling,  Kurt Masur,  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $21.98
    CD: $19.99
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  • 16.
    Schiller: Opus
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 2032202 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christopher von Deylen,  Arnt von Aich,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Schiller,  Lang Lang,  Hélène Grimaud,  Albrecht Mayer  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 17.
    La Folie Americaine! - Dvorak, Gershwin, Bernstein, Barber, Copland, Glass, Adams
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564634485 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Samuel Barber,  Philip Glass,  Aaron Copland  ... 
    Performer:  André Previn,  Hélène Grimaud,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  David Zinman,  John McGlinn,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 18.
    Credo / Helene Grimaud [Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001935346 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Corigliano,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Arvo Pärt
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Chorus
    Blu-ray Audio: $25.99
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  • 19.
    Schumann: Dichterliebe / Jan Vogler, Helene Grimaud
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 789258 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Jan Vogler,  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Jan Vogler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moritzburg Festival Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Helene Grimaud Piano Recital - Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Rachimaninov
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4891 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    On sale! $29.99
    DVD: $26.99
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  • 21.
    Brahms: Piano Concertos No 1 & 2 / Helene Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001904602 Release Date: 09/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Andris Nelsons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $25.99
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  • 22.
    Ravel: Piano Music, Piano Concerto / Thibaudet, Grimaud
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1313396 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $9.99
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  • 23.
    Duo / Helene Grimaud, Sol Gabetta
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001752302 Release Date: 10/22/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Claude Debussy,  Dmitri Shostakovich
    Performer:  Sol Gabetta,  Hélène Grimaud
    CD: $24.99
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  • 24.
    First Choice: Chopin, Rachmaninov
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001662602 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergey Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    CD: $12.99
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  • 25.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Bartok
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001660402 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes,  Hélène Grimaud,  Neil Percy  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $58.49
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