Yvonne Loriod

French pianist (1924, Houilles – 2010, Saint-Denis)

Second wife of Olivier Messiaen, Yvonne Loriod was also his muse. As a talented pianist, she created and recorded many of his pieces.

Young prodigy, Yvonne Loriod started to play at the age of 14 the great pieces of the piano repertoire like the Well-Tempered Clavier of Johann Sebastian Bach, the 32 sonatas of Beethoven of the 22 concertos of Mozart. She did her musical education at the Paris Conservatoire and won seven first prizes. She studied the piano with Lazare Lévy and Marcel Ciampi, composition with Darius Milhaud and analysis with Olivier Messiaen. They would only get married in 1961, after the composer's first wife (the violinist Claire Delbos) died.

Yvonne Loriod started an international career in 1948 and quickly became the ambassador of the contemporary music for piano. Not only did she created the complete work for piano of Olivier Messiaen (like the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus or Les Visions de l'Amen), she also created the Deuxième Sonate of André Jolivet and the Structures of Pierre Boulez. Her discographic recordings were all praised by her peers as they were by the critics. She won twelve times the Grand Prix du Disque, both for her classical and contemporary repertoires. In 1967, Yvonne Loriod became a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire and kept that office until 1989. Among many students, she taught to Roger Muraro, Florent Boffard, Nicolas Angelich, Pierre-Laurent Aimard or Michel Béroff.

Seven landmark dates in the life of Yvonne Loriod

1943: Made a first creation of a piece for piano by Olivier Messiaen: the Visions de l'amen. 

1946: Composed Grains de cendre, for soprano and chamber orchestra.  

1949: Global creation in Boston of the Turangalîla-Symphonie of Olivier Messiaen, for piano, ondes Martenot and orchestra, by Yvonne Loriod (piano), Ginette Martenot (ondes Martenot) and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; conducted by Leonard Bernstein

1961: Creation of the Structures for two pianos of Pierre Boulez at the festival Donaueschingen in Germany with the composer.  

1958: Became a piano teacher at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe (Germany).  

1961: Married Olivier Messiaen.  

1967: Became a piano teacher at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris.  

Radio France documentation biography, March 2015