Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a classical pianist and professor at the Paris Conservatory and the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. Born in Lyon, France, he is widely acclaimed as a key figure in contemporary music, and has performed around the globe with the world’s major orchestras and conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Daniel Harding, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Jonathan Nott, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Franz Welser-Möst. An honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, as of 2009 he will also serve as the Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival in England.
Question: What pieces have been particularly influential in your life?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: There are many. The most important probably belongs to the very first part of the ****. For instance, when my parents, as musical amateur played probably in a quite amateur way on a very modest upright piano, melodies that I still remember, or when my neighbor on the sixth floor when I went and slept at night, played as an amateur pianist, compositions by Schubert and Brahms. But I think that very important when I became a teenager the different ways to be passionate in music. This could be the way of the romantic, like Wagner with "Tristan" that has been, for me, a reason for living in music for an entire year, and learn old music by heart and could say the whole text by heart, or this could be the way of leaving creators to transform the passion in music into new aesthetics and new languages.
Question: How can we improve our appreciation of classical music?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: First of all, I'd like to say that the educational programs should be much stronger to answer to your question. And if we see – if we observed some countries that have really got some visions from musical education, like Venezuela, Japan, or Finland, we see that the answer is much easier to do. In fact, if one thinks about starting in education, it could be any kind of music. Mozart, Stravinsky, Elliott Carter, or many music from this planet, if the education is well done, this music can make sense and become familiar to anybody, and especially to young people.
Question: At what point did you know you had musical talent?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: Well, at the start, I realized that I had a passion, I would say. A talent, I had no idea, but having played a couple of notes on an upright piano at the house of a Grand-Uncle, I had felt an extremely strong attraction and a kind of necessity to play this instrument.