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: Are there any pop or rock musicians that you admire?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: I have an acoustical problem because I find that the level, the dynamic level, of proper rock concerts are so up high that I feel in danger for my ears. Physically speaking. So I try to compensate as I can and my son, Antoine, tries to make me less ignorant than I am. I had a high level of resistance when I was young. What I now do consider as a kind of narrow-minded attitude that I have, I discovered too late, that in fact you have the same problems in the pop, for instance, or in the rock, or in many musics, than in the classics. Danger of the business. The problem of the isolation of groups that are very creative and that are not often in the… Problems of the fashion and how it can kill some expression, and so on and so on. More than all probably with the relationship with the success, that means with the society in general.
So, I think that better understanding of both parts, if I can say so, somewhere can help to understand the whole mystery.
Question: Are there any skills that are shared by classical musicians and pop stars?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: Well, there are many dimensions that are comparable, for sure. The charisma, the presence on stage, the commitment, the energy, the ability for communication, dimensions of expression, understanding for our era, well probably many other dimensions. Yes definitely.
Question: What is the role of the classical musician in society?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: The so-called classical serious musicians, are supposed to be ambi-centers for what we call our classical serious culture, to transmit to new audiences and new generations a very rich heritage and to be witnesses for what happens today. So, to be servants for creators and to be able to participate to the artistic education for the next generations.
Question: What has been the traditional role of the series musician?
Pierre Laurent Aimard: Well, what one calls classical music, or serious music, or all these awful words, requires most of the time quite a high level of technical training. This is the price to pay somewhere. Not always, if you sing in a choir for instance, with a good director, you can make very good music. Sometimes with a less challenging education than if you want to play a complex polyphony with a keyboard instrument. But, as you say, there are ways to make music without the same level of discipline, and this is why we can be thankful to live in a world with a certain level of tolerance where many ways of making music, or making arts, is accepted and is feasible.