The French pianist, Hélène Grimaud, studied with Jacqueline Courtin at the conservatory there and subsequently in Marseille with Pierre Barbizet. At the age of 13 she was accepted by the Paris Conservatory where she won the first prize in piano in 1985. In July, immediately after graduating, she recorded Sergei Rachmaninov’s Sonata No. 2 and the complete Etudes-Tableaux Op. 33 (Grand Prix du disque, 1986). She studied additionally with György Sándor and Leon Fleisher. The year 1987 marked a decisive turning point in her career with appearances at MIDEM in Cannes and at the piano festival La Roque d’Anthéron, her first recital in Tokyo and Daniel Barenboim’s invitation to perform with the Orchestre de Paris. Hélène Grimaud has since performed with many of the world’s major orchestras and renowned conductors.
In 1988, Hélène Grimaud first performed for the pianist Dmitri Bashkirov, who became an important influence on her playing. Appearance at the Lockenhaus Festival at the invitation of Gidon Kremer, with whom she performed - Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich become further important influences in her career. In 1990, she made her debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, followed by appearances with leading orchestras in the USA and Europe. Settles in the USA. New York recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum; European debut with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Temirkanov (S. Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 2) at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.
In 1993, Hélène Grimaud made tours Germany with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi. In 1995 she made ger debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Claudio Abbado performing S. Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2. In 1996 she made a highly successful tour of Spain with Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra. She performed with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra led by Claudio Abbado at the Lucerne and Pesaro Festivals. In 1997 she performed and records Johannes Brahms’s Concerto No. 1 with Kurt Sanderling and the Staatskapelle Berlin (Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, 1999). In 1999 she made her New York Philharmonic Orchestra debut with L.v. Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 under Kurt Masur. Grimaud and the photographer J Henry Fair established the Wolf Conservation Center, a private, non-profit-making educational facility in South Salem (Westchester County, NY), to promote conservation of this threatened species. In 200 she made her debuts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Tour of the Czech Republic; in autumn she was the soloist (along with Martha Argerich) in a European festival tour made by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. She performed L.v. Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and David Zinman, and gave a solo recital in the Berlin Philharmonie which was filmed for TV broadcast.
In 2001-2002, Hélène Grimaud made her debut in Amsterdam with the Royal Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam under Riccardo Chailly (Ravel, Concerto in G). L.v. Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 in Paris, and at the London Proms with the Orchestre de Paris and Christoph Eschenbach. In January 2002 she was appointed an “Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2002-2003 she signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Tours Europe and Japan with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. She gave world premiere of new work by Arvo Pärt at London’s Tate Modern and performs Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. Festival appearances at the London Proms and Edinburgh. In 2003-2004 she recorded Arvo Pärt’s Credo in the composer’s presence for Deutsche Grammophon; the recording also features Corigliano’s Fantasia on an ostinato and L.v. Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Tempest Sonata (Choc du Monde de la musique, Diapason d’or, 2004). European tour with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. In November 2003 in Paris her book Variations sauvages was published, in which Hélène Grimaud talks about her life as a musician and her environmental work with wolves. In 2004 she performed L.v. Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 in San Francisco under Vladimir Ashkenazy; USA tour with the Russian National Orchestra, playing Béla Bartók’s Concerto No. 3; L.v. Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto on a European tour with Michael Gielen. Other concert engagements that season included the J. Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in Stockholm and at the London Proms, Ravel’s G major Concerto in Japan and S. Rachmaninov’s 2nd Concerto in Germany and France. Recitals in Vienna, Ludwigsburg and Amsterdam, and in duo with Truls Mørk in Paris. She recorded the Second Sonatas of Chopin and S. Rachmaninov, plus Chopin’s Barcarolle and Berceuse, and B. Bartók’s Concerto No. 3 with Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra (German Record Critics Award, Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, 2005; Midem Classic Award, 2006), both released in 2005. In 2005 she had orchestral engagements throughout the USA and Europe, including the London Proms, and an extensive European tour with the SWR Sinfonieorchester and Sir Roger Norrington. Recitals in Atlanta, London, Paris, Berlin and Munich, and a tour of Japan. That year she recorded Reflection: music inspired by Clara Schumann, including her husband Robert’s Piano Concerto, songs by Clara herself, and solo and chamber music by J. Brahms (released in 2006). Echo Award in the category “Instrumentalist of the Year”.
In 2006, Hélène Grimaud appeared throughout the USA, Europe and in Japan, including concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker and Bamberger Symphoniker (London Proms), as well as recitals at New York’s Carnegie Hall, with the LSO Chamber Ensemble and at festivals including the Lucerne Festival and the Musikfest Bremen. In 2007 her concerts included appearances in the USA, Canada and Europe with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker and Staatskapelle Berlin. With the Dresden Staatskapelle and Fabio Luisi she performed L.v. Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 on tour throughout Europe, and also with the Strasburg Philharmonic Orchestra in France and Germany, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in Germany, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv, and the Philadelphia Orchestra in the USA. She gave recitals in Los Angeles, Luxemburg, Vienna and Germany. She appeared at the Caramoor Summer Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Aix-en-Provence Festival with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Verbier Festival (with Mischa Maisky and Thomas Quasthoff), and the Salzburg Festival. Release of L.v. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Vladimir Jurowski. In 2008, she performed concertos in the USA with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (Carnegie Hall, L.v. Beethoven, No. 5), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (B. Bartók, No. 3), Washington National Symphony Orchestra (L.v. Beethoven, No. 4); in Europe with the Philharmonia Orchestra (L.v. Beethoven, Nos. 4 & 5), Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Ravel, G major), Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (on tour in Israel; L.v. Beethoven, Nos. 4 & 5), London Philharmonic Orchestra (Robert Schumann; S. Rachmaninov, No. 2; B. Bartók, No. 3), Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (J. Brahms, no. 2), Dresden Staatskapelle (Robert Schumann), the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (S. Rachmaninov, No. 2), Wiener Symphoniker (L.v. Beethoven, No. 4); and in Japan with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (L.v. Beethoven, No. 5). She gave solo and chamber-music recitals in London, New York, France and numerous German cities; appeared in festival in Istanbul, Verbier, and Lucerne. A special highlight is her appearance at the Last Night of the Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall; the concert will be broadcast live around the world. Grimaud recorded works by J. S. Bach, including the Harpsichord Concerto no. 1 and three Preludes and Fugues, and transcriptions of J.S. Bach by Ferruccio Busoni, Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninov (release: autumn 2008)