Hélène Grimaud

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Hélène Grimaud rehearsing for the International Piano Festival in La Roque d'Anthéron, 2004
Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Vladimir Ashkenazy & Philharmonic Orchestra)
  FR 111 04/28/2001 (4 weeks)
Credo (with Esa-Pekka Salonen & Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra & Choir)
  FR 39 11/02/2003 (23 weeks)
  BE W 43 11/29/2003 (10 weeks)
Chopin / Rachmaninov
  FR 13 02/06/2005 (26 weeks)
  BE W 43 02/19/2005 (13 weeks)
Reflection (& Anne Sofie von Otter)
  DE 97 01/27/2006 (1 week)
  FR 45 11/12/2005 (11 weeks)
  BE W 75 11/26/2005 (7 weeks)
Piano Concerto 5 / Piano Sonata 28 (with the Staatskapelle Dresden)
  DE 91 09/14/2007 (3 weeks)
  FR 24 09/08/2007 (26 weeks)
  BE W 54 09/29/2007 (4 weeks)
  CH 99 11/02/2008 (1 week)
  FR 16 10/25/2008 (25 weeks)
  BE W 61 11/01/2008 (9 weeks)
  FR 46 23/10/2010 (11 weeks)
  BE W 77 23/10/2010 (3 weeks)
  BE F 99 10/30/2010 (1 week)
Piano Concertos 19 + 23 - Mozart
  CH 78 11/13/2011 (1 week)
  FR 54 05/11/2011 (8 weeks)
Duo (& Sol Gabetta)
  DE 90 October 19, 2012 (1 week)
  CH 85 10/21/2012 (1 week)
  FR 77 October 13, 2012 (4 weeks)
  BE W 57 October 27, 2012 (8 weeks)
  BE F 140 11/17/2012 (5 weeks)
Brahms: Concertos (with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic & Andris Nelsons)
  CH 98 13/10/2013 (1 week)
  FR 49 10/12/2013 (12 weeks)
  BE W 68 05/10/2013 (10 weeks)
  BE F 123 05/10/2013 (3 weeks)
Water (with Nitin Sawhney )
  DE 73 02/05/2016 (1 week)
  CH 43 02/07/2016 (1 week)
  FR 29 01/29/2016 (9 weeks)
  FR 107 04/15/2017 (5 weeks)
  BE W 139 04/22/2017 (2 weeks)
  CH 91 09/30/2018 (1 week)
  FR 111 09/28/2018 (2 weeks)

Hélène Rose Paule Grimaud (born November 7, 1969 in Aix-en-Provence ) is a French pianist .


Childhood and musical breakthrough

In a New York Times interview with John Rockwell , she described her origins as follows: "My father is descended from Sephardic Jews in Africa and my mother's ancestors were Jewish Berbers from Corsica." Her father was adopted by a French family as a child. Both parents were teachers, her father taught languages ​​at university. Before she was born, her family changed the family name Grimaldi to the current spelling. According to her own admission, Grimaud never really felt at home there because of her different origins, although she grew up in France. As a child, Grimaud suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , which did not resolve until she was exposed to music. She has been a synesthete since childhood and perceives colors when she hears.

Grimaud began playing the piano at the age of six. She first received lessons in her hometown, then she studied in Marseille with Pierre Barbizet. After she had passed the entrance exams at the Paris Conservatory at the age of twelve with the second and third piano sonatas of Frédéric Chopin , she studied with Jacques Rouvier there from 1982 . In her second year of study, she returned to her home town of Aix-en-Provence to protest against the repertoire at the Conservatory, which was unpleasant to her , and performed Chopin's second piano concerto with professors and students from the Conservatory there . Her Parisian teacher passed the recording of this concert on to the Japanese classical label Denon, thus securing her first recording contract, which led to her first publication in 1985, a recording of Rachmaninov's second piano sonata , with which she won the Academy's Grand Prix du Disque Charles Cros won. In the same year she graduated with a first prize. In 1987 she had her international breakthrough: Grimaud took part in the Midem de Cannes , played at the piano festival in La Roque-d'Anthéron , gave her first piano recital in Paris and made her debut with the Orchester de Paris under Daniel Barenboim .

Relocation to the USA and establishment of the Wolf Conservation Center

A meeting with the 28-year-old pianist Martha Argerich at the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in 1989 confirmed that Grimaud was sticking to her independent and unconventional style despite her increasing popularity. In 1990 she made her US debut, and in the same year a full US tour. At a concert in Florida she met the bassoonist Jeff Keesecker and shortly afterwards moved with him to Tallahassee .

In 1991, in Tallahassee, Grimaud met the she-wolf Alawa, who was kept as a wild pet by an acquaintance. The she-wolf allowed her to stroke her when she first met her, which is highly unusual, and Grimaud felt a deep connection to the animal, which she describes in detail in her autobiography Wolf Sonata . Together with her partner at the time, Jeff Keesecker, she then adopted two wolves. When they separated in 1994, Grimaud moved to New York City , where she and her new partner Henry Fair kept a wolf pup for a while in their apartment . In 1997, the couple bought two and a half acres of land in South Salem, New York , moved into a house there and set up a Wolf Conservation Center , which opened in 1999. It is dedicated to the breeding, protection and reintegration of wolves in natural surroundings. Another aim of the center is to sensitize children and young people in particular through lectures, but also through direct encounters with wolves, for ecological relationships and species protection.

Move to Switzerland

In 2005 Grimaud met her current partner, photographer Mat Hennek . The two lived together in Weggis in Switzerland . In the residence there Grimaud has bought her own first piano, a wing of the brand Steinway . In 2007 her second book was published, titled Life Lessons .

At the end of 2005, Grimaud fell ill with severe pneumonia . As a result, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome and could not leave Europe for over six months. In spring 2010, she also had to have a gastric cancer removed. However, she returned to the piano in the summer of the same year and told the New York Times that she had viewed the months of her recovery as a welcome sabbatical .

As a result of a disagreement about which cadenza of when recording 23 piano concerto by Mozart should be heard, finished Grimaud 2011, the long-standing collaboration with the conductor Claudio Abbado . Instead of the already completed joint recording, Grimaud released a live recording from May 2011 with the chamber orchestra of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Radoslaw Szulc, in which she played the cadenza of Ferruccio Busoni she preferred .

Hélène Grimaud has been living in the USA again since 2014.


Grimaud has received numerous awards in the course of her career, including the Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture in 2002 . In 2004 she received the Victoire d'honneur from the French Victoires de la musique . In 2005 she won the Echo Classic Prize for her CD "Reflection" with music by and about Clara Schumann . In 2009 Grimaud was awarded the Bremen Music Festival Prize . In 2013 she was again awarded the Echo Klassik Prize for chamber music recording of the year .


1985 to 1992 (Label: Denon)

  • 1985: Rachmaninoff : Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36; Études-Tableaux op.33 (selection)
  • 1987: Chopin : Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23; Liszt : Après une lecture de Dante; Schumann : Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor op.11
  • 1988: Schumann : Kreisleriana op. 16; Brahms : Piano Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 2
  • 1991: Brahms : Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5; 6 piano pieces op.118
  • 1992: Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18; Ravel : Piano Concerto in G major (with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra , Jesús López Cobos )

1995 to 1998 (Label: Erato)

1999 to 2001 (Label: Teldec)

  • 1999: Beethoven : Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major op. 58 (with New York Philharmonic , Kurt Masur ); Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109; Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Op. 110
  • 2001: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (with Philharmonia Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy ); Prelude in G sharp minor op. 32, No.12 (Allegro); Études Tableaux op. 33; Corelli Variations op.42

Since 2003 (Label: Deutsche Grammophon)

Republication of individual works on samplers ("Best of", Budget Editions, etc.) and in collection boxes are not listed.

Books (in German translation)


  • Portrait - Hélène Grimaud. Documentary, France, 1997, 58 min., Un film de Claude Mourieras, first broadcast: arte February 8, 1998
  • My life - Hélène Grimaud. Documentary, Germany, USA, France, 2006, 43 min., Director: Alix François Meier, production: Macroscope, ZDF , arte , summary by arte (contains a conversation with the Berlin zoo keeper Thomas Dörflein about wolves)
  • Through the night with… Rolando Villazón and Hélène Grimaud. Magazin, Germany, 2007, 50 min., Director: Robert Kreuzale, production: ZDF, first broadcast: August 21, 2007, summary by arte



  1. Chart sources: DE CH FR1 (until 2011) FR2 BE (Wallonia) BE (Flanders)
  2. Hélène Grimaud Biography - Discography, Music, Lyrics, Album, CD, Career, Famous Works, and Awards
  3. Interview with pianist Hélène Grimaud French pianist saved by music - and wolves by Peter Culshaw, The Telegraph, 11 Nov 2002
  4. a b James R. Oestreich: A Pianist Harmonizes With the Wolves. In: The New York Times , November 5, 2006.
  5. James R. Oestreich: Recording as a Road to Recovery. In: The New York Times , January 27, 2011 (English).
  6. ^ Daniel J. Wakin: Titans Clash Over a Mere Cadenza. In: The New York Times , October 30, 2011.
  7. echoklassik.de - Prize Winner 2013 ( Memento from June 17, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) accessed on October 8, 2013

Web links

Commons : Hélène Grimaud  - collection of images, videos and audio files