Jean-François Heisser

Pianist and conductor (born 1950 in Saint-Etienne)

Versatile, eclectic Jean-François Heisser is a pianist, conductor, teacher, artistic director and author. His broad-ranging, curious mind is constantly exploring new and unusual territory. He is the recognised French specialist in the Spanish repertoire.

Jean-François Heisser trained at the Paris conservatoire, where he studied with Vlado Perlemuter and Henriette Puig-Roger, and obtained six distinctions (in piano, counterpoint, harmony, fugue, accompaniment and chamber music).
His activities and the people he met brought him into contact with a broader repertoire and he soon became a champion of contemporary music (Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, Messiaen, Amy and Manoury). He was also drawn to the Spanish repertoire and became the French specialist in the matter, shedding fresh light on composers such as Falla, Albéniz and Granados, and introducing audiences to Mompou.     
His early career as a performer was immediately varied, and divided between his work as a soloist, contemporary music and chamber music. As solo pianist with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra for eight years, he handled a very broad repertoire. He has performed with prestigious orchestras (the two Radio France orchestras, Suisse Romande Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic) conducted by Mehta, Tilson-Thomas, Janowski, Krivine, Chung, Plasson and Nagano. His chamber music partners include Marie-Josèphe Jude, Sandor Vegh, Augustin Dumay, Gérard Poulet, Pierre Amoyal, Misha Maisky, Georges Pludermacher, Régis Pasquier, Elizabeth Balmas, Roland Pidoux, Gérard Caussé, Michel Portal and Dimitri Sitkovetski. He regularly performs with the Prazak, Lindsay and Ysaÿe Quartets.
Since 2001, he has also worked as a conductor. As artistic director of the Poitou-Charentes Orchestra, he has raised it to the level of the best French orchestras. He has conducted the orchestras of Bordeaux, Ile de France, Auvergne, Pays de Savoie, Granada and the Colonne Orchestra, among others. He is also artistic director of the Maurice Ravel International Academy of Music and the Soirées et Matinées musicales d’Arles concerts.
Highlights of his broad range of recordings, which cover a variety of styles, include his recordings of Spanish music and the complete piano works of Dukas.

Six landmark dates in the life of Jean-François Heisser:

1974: First prize in the Jaen International Piano Competition; met Federico Mompou.
1976: debuted as piano soloist with the New Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra.
1986: began teaching piano at the Paris conservatoire (CNSMDP).
1998: "Diapason d'or" award for his recording of the piano music of Paul Dukas
2002: in September 2002, as part of the "Piano aux Jacobins" Festival, gave the world premiere performance of Philippe Manoury's solo piano work, La Ville.
2013: wrote a book on Mompou's "Musica callada" cycle, published by Actes Sud. 

Official website

Bibliography compiled from Radio France musical documentation, March 2014