Clay of reckoning

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Clay of reckoning

Famous piano sensation Richard Clayderman tells City Times about the importance of practise and insists it’s not easy to play his compositions by foot

By Adam Zacharias (

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Published: Mon 25 Apr 2011, 11:57 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:59 AM

THE WORLD’S MOST successful living pianist dropped by the Al Bustan Rotana on Saturday, where he played a private show in the ballroom of the Garhoud hotel.

Richard Clayderman is recognised as an icon of easy listening music – having sold 70 million albums since instrumental piece Ballade Pour Adeline became a worldwide sensation in 1976.

In the last 35 years, the 57-year-old Parisian has proven prolific both in his recording and touring schedule, as he continues to influence a new generation of piano hopefuls.

City Times met the ‘Prince of Romance’ before his show.

You’re renowned for your huge musical output, but what’s the balance nowadays between touring and recording?

It’s true that I do many concerts, and that I’ve done more than 1,000 recordings over the years. But nowadays I do fewer recordings because the record market is in a bad situation. I’m more focused on concerts.

How do you maintain the romantic vibe throughout your concerts?

Of course, the basis of my repertoire is romantic music – my original hits, certain movie themes and so on – but my concert also contains other, not so romantic pieces to create a balance between uptempo and soft.

What are some of the more uptempo pieces you play?

Tonight there will be some original compositions, plus a special 10-minute tribute to Stevie Wonder, which will be a medley of his different songs.

How often are you recognised in the various countries around the world?

In China, they know my music and they know my face. But in all countries it’s the same – people have a certain visual perception of me, and a certain perception of my music.

Have you been to Dubai before?

This is my third visit to Dubai, and so far all of them have been for private events. That’s very different compared to my habits; usually I perform in regular theatres.

How has your music evolved over the last 30-plus years?

Every day I change physically, mentally and musically. But I don’t decide to change; it happens every minute. I haven’t decided to evolve my style, but it has continued to do so.

Are you still based in the northern French region of Normandy?

I lived in Normandy for some time, but now I’m back in the suburbs of Paris because it’s easier for my travels.

What’s your everyday life like outside of music?

I like to spend time with my family because I don’t see them so often, I like to go for walks with my dogs and my wife, and I love shopping. Very simple things – I’m always living in hotels and restaurants, so it’s good to come back to everyday pleasures.

And you still practise the piano every single day?

Of course! That’s the first thing I do when I wake up.

What’s your opinion on the armless China’s Got Talent pianist Liu Wei, who played your piece Mariage D’Amour with his toes for his first audition and went on to win the series?

It’s great, but it’s also embarrassing for me because people think my music can be played easily with your feet! There’s another female pianist who plays with two fingers on each hand.

What would you like your musical legacy to be?

My goal is to give people a good time with my concerts. As far as my recordings go, I continuously meet people who say they enjoyed this or that piece of music – I’m delighted I can give this pleasure to so many people. And, more importantly, if I can help the younger generation become more interested in playing, then that’s fantastic.

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