François-René Duchâble

French pianist (Paris, 1952 - )

Pianist of extremes, François-René Duchâble led a concert career before embarking on radically different ways of serving music.

Exceptionally gifted, François-René Duchâble won his first prize at the Paris Conservatory at age 13. Three years later, at the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition in Brussels, he was noticed by Arthur Rubinstein who advised and encouraged him. In 1973, after winning the Sacha-Schneider Foundation Prize, he embarked on an international career that took him around the world and to numerous festivals including Lucerne, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Berlin, London and its famous Proms. He performed with the greatest symphonic orchestras in Berlin where he was  conducted by Herbert von Karajan, but also in London, Paris, Rotterdam, Montreal. While he has a special fondness for German Romanticism, from Beethoven to Brahms, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt, he went on exploring 20th century partitions with Bartok, Ravel and Poulenc. His talent is widely recognized and he has been awarded many distinctions: the Grand Prize of the Charles Cros Academy for his interpretation of Chopin’s Etudes in 1981 and Grand Prize of the Académie du Disque Français for his recording of Poulenc's orchestral works in 1986, among others.

In 1996, and for three years in a row, he was elected Instrumental Soloist of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique.

However, François-René Duchâble less and less accepts the constraints of an artistic career, blaming its "sclerotic social ritual, media pressure and dehumanizing international lifestyle". In July 2003, he announced his "retirement" by dropping his piano, from a helicopter, in the lake of La Colmiane, then burning his stage costume after a recital. From then on, he has been leading a different career, favouring unusual venues for his performance of classical recitals: a 1700 meters high refuge on La Tournette near Annecy, the prison of Clairvaux, concerts-conferences on medical subjects, the summit of a 12-meter tree in St. Cloud Park. In March 2014, he took part in the charity event Glisse en Coeur, in Grand-Bornand, playing a piano on skis going down a slope.

Six landmark date in the life of François-René Duchâble:

1965: 1st Prize of the Paris Conservatory            
1973: Prize of the Sacha-Schneider Foundation
1981: Grand Prize of the Charles Cros Academy
1996: Instrumental Soloist of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique
2003: Announced his retirement by dumping his piano in the lake of La Colmiane
2014: Played the piano while skiing down a ski slope during the event Glisse en Coeur

Biography from Radio France’s Musical Documentation, June 2014