Hélène Grimaud

Biography

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 63 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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  ... 
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  • 2.
    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  ... 
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  • 3.
    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
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  • 4.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 5.
    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
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  • 6.
    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
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  • 7.
    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
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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    Brahms: Piano Sonatas 2 And 3 / Helene Grimaud
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1327 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
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  • 10.
    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
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  • 11.
    First Choice: Chopin, Rachmaninov
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001662602 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
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  • 12.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Bartok
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001660402 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes,  Hélène Grimaud,  Nigel Thomas  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    On sale! $49.98
    CD: $39.99
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  • 13.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos / Helene Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001620402 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud,  Mojca Erdmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos 19 & 23 / Helene Grimaud [CD & DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001620500 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud,  Mojca Erdmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $31.99
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  • 15.
    The Classical Album 2011
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001566202 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Franz Liszt,  Jules Massenet,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Cecilia Bartoli,  Lang Lang,  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Anna Netrebko  ... 
    Conductor:  Adám Fischer,  James Levine,  Claudio Abbado,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  International Chamber Soloists
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  • 16.
    Echoes Of Time / Batiashvili, Salonen,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001520302 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Giya Kancheli,  Arvo Pärt,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Lisa Batiashvili,  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Resonances / Helene Grimaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001515402 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Alban Berg,  Franz Liszt,  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
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  • 18.
    Ravel, Strauss / Jurowski, Grimaud, Chamber Orchestra of Europe [Blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 3078734 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
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    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 19.
    The Brahms Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564680814 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Rudolf Buchbinder,  Thomas Zehetmair,  Hélène Grimaud,  Brigitte Fassbaender  ... 
    Conductor:  Domonkos Héja,  Christoph von Dohnányi,  Juha Kuivanen,  Pedro Halffter-Caro  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danubia Symphony Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 20.
    111 - The Collector's Edition 2 [56-CD Set - Limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4779142 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 56
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Stuart Harling,  Robert Lloyd,  Sherrill Milnes,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  John Nelson,  Leonard Bernstein,  Jerzy Semkow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  George Watson's College Boys' Chorus  ... 
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  • 21.
    111 More Classic Tracks [6-CD Set - Limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001483202 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Franz Liszt,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Maurice André,  Stefan Askenase,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Karel Ancerl,  Hans Stadlmair,  John Nelson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Munich Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 22.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1; Richard Strauss: Burleske / Grimaud
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4680715 Release Date: 08/03/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling,  David Zinman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
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  • 23.
    Ravel, Strauss / Jurowski, Grimaud, Chamber Orchestra of Europe
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 3078738 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
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  • 24.
    Chopin Gold
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001397602 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Martha Argerich,  Friedrich Gulda,  Rafal Blechacz  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 25.
    State Of The Art - The Story Of Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001341102 Release Date: 12/15/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Rafal Blechacz,  Kathleen Battle,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli Consort,  Andalucian Dogs
    CD: $107.49
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