Julien Libeer – Piano
Fri, 3. Apr. 2020 - 8:00 pm,
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin Dahlem
Julien Libeer – Piano
Out of Doors, Sz. 81
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Sonata for piano in Bb major, D. 960
A FEW QUESTIONS
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? I try not to have too many preconceived ideas of what perfect happiness might be, so that I can recognize it when it manifests itself by surprise. I do however have an idea of what gives meaning to my life. That would be the endeavor to understand things (the source of musical expression, people in general and in particular…) more and more clearly, to clear the air through proper reflexion. Whether I’m any good at it is of course a different issue. Since recently, contemplating my sleeping daughter’s expression, and the responsibility of introducing this little creature to a complex, dangerous but fascinating world is equally a source of meaning. And, undeniably: happiness.
2. If you could time travel, where (rather “when”) would you like to go? How many stops am I granted? There are many places I would like to have seen: the golden century of Athens, 16th century Italy, Paris in the 1830s, Vienna by the end of the 1800s. … However, I’d love to go back not that far in time: 1950s/1960s. It’s an era I have a pronounced love-hate relationship with. Post-WW2 turmoil is what produced the world I currently live in: it gave us peace, exponential technological evolutions, the emergence of pop culture and entertainment, and produced substantial shifts in our views on the good life – and of all of these things I feel myself a blessed benefactor. Unfortunately, as it recovered from the moral nightmare of the first half of the 20th century, the West also launched a brutal cultural assault on its old self, babes were thrown away with the bathwater, and a centuries-old cultural lineage arguably came to some kind of end. Or at least, that’s the idea I have of it. I’d love to hang out there for a while and judge first-hand …
3. What is your definition of love? The surprising observation that some human beings are capable of making you put the pursuit of your own wellbeing on hold in favor of theirs.
4. What have been the greatest challenges for you ? Learning Chopin’s 24 Préludes? Passing any chemistry test in high school? My first Amsterdam Concertgebouw recital? Getting married? Hosting a classical music talk show on TV. (yes, I somehow did that …)? Like anyone, I’ve had my share of leaps into the unknown. I’m not temperamentally inclined to risk for risk’s sake, but I’ve learned that that’s where the true lessons in life are to be learned.
5. Name a poet, author, painter and composer that you especially like Marcel Thiry, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, J.M.W. Turner, W.A. Mozart
6. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I wouldn’t mind being the proverbial fly on the wall.
7. Which composer or artist of the past would you like to invite for dinner? I’d invite Rossini and kindly ask him to cook!
8. What is your most treasured possession? It might be the full score of Mozart’s Zauberflöte – the first score I ever bought from my own pocket money when I was about 10 years old. It’s a pretty bad edition, by the way, but The Magic Flute is the soundtrack to my childhood, and this score on my shelf seems to radiate all the innocence and selfless enthusiasm that characterizes this wonderful period …
9. What piece changed your life? Technically, it feels more like many different pieces each gently nudged my life in ever-different directions … But I can’t get around Bernstein’s score of West Side Story. His recording (and the glorious documentary that recorded that process) are among my most exhilarating childhood memories.
10. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Any kind of misery that you got yourself into through actions and decisions that you knew were a bad idea but did anyway.
11. Who are your heroes in real life? Most people that have inspired me to be the best person I could be are close family/friends. There are also some writers whose artistic and/or intellectual tours de force have changed the way I look at the world – Jonathan Franzen, Christopher Hitchens, Dostoyevsky, Jordan Peterson. But, as unoriginal as it may sound, the people I spend most of my day in admiration of are the composers whose works I’m privileged to study. I cannot listen to the finale of the second act of Mozart’s Figaro without an almost existential confusion at the idea that those sublime pages started one day as a blank sheets of paper.
12. What is your motto? The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut wrote a book called The intelligent Heart. It seems like an intelligent heart might be a good thing to pursue, humbly, on a daily basis.
Born in 1987 near Brussels, Belgium, Julien Libeer’s earliest musical memory was the famous documentary on the recording of West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. Th piano, which he took up at age six, quickly became the faithful companion for expressing a love of music that, until today, thrives as much on opera, orchestra and chamber music as on the piano repertoire.
For five decisive years, Franch-Polish pedagogue Jean Fassina was the patient, demanding, wise teacher that any aspiring musician should have the chance to encounter. This experience was followed by the equally intense ongoing collaboration with Maria Joao Pires at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, whose advice and support strongly influenced Julien’s views over the last years, and continue to do so.
Julien has performed at the Palais des Beaux Arts and Flagey (Brussels), Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Barbican Hall (London), Auditorio Nacional (Madrid), Palau de la Musica (Barcelona) and Concertgebouw Amsterdam. In addition, other tours have taken him to Japan (Tokyo, Sumida Tryphony Hall), Lebanon (Beirut Chants festival), Turkey (Ankara Music Festival) and the US (Miami International Piano Festival).
He has performed with the Brussels Philharmonic, Belgium National Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, deFilharmonie, Sinfonia Varsovia and New Japan Philharmonic among others, under conductors including Trevor Pinnock, Michel Tabachnik, Augustin Dumay, George Pehlevanian, Joshua Weilerstein, Enrique Mazzola and Christopher Warren-Green.
An accomplished chamber musician, he works on a regular basis with Augustin Dumay, Camille Thomas, Frank Braley, Maria Joao Pires and Lorenzo Gatto, with whom he will perform the complete Beethoven violin sonatas over the next few seasons (at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Louvre, Paris and Concertgebouw Amsterdam).
Julien has studied with Daniel Blumenthal (Royal Conservatory of Brussels), Jean Fassina (Paris), and is an associate artist of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, where he also specialized in chamber music with the members of the Artemis Quartet. Furthermore, he has received advice of Dmitry Bashkirov, Alfred Brendel, Jura Margulis and Gerhard Schulz (Alban Berg Quartet).
Although he consciously avoided engaging in any kind of competition, Julien has received such honorary prizes as the Juventus award (most promising young European soloist) in 2008, and was elected Young Musician of the Year by the Belgian Music Press Association in 2010. The Klara award 2013 was attributed to him by the audience of the national radio for classical music.
Much appreciated for his eloquence, Julien is a regular guest of media at home and abroad. He hosted a talk show on classical music on Belgian national TV. His work has been subject of a TV documentary („Technique does not exist“, 2013), which is also available on You Tube.
Highlights of the 2019/20 season include solo recitals atthe Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Concertgebouw (Bruges), Flagey (Brussels), Phiharmonic Hall (Liège), Schouwburg (Kortrijk), Cultuurcentrum (Hasselt), Muziekcentrum van de Omroep (Hilversum) and Steinway International Concert Series (Cardiff). In addition, he will perform duo recitals with Lorenzo Gatto at the Théâtre des Abbesses (Paris), Chapelle Corneille (Rouen), Beirut Chants Festival, Cultuurcentrum (Hasselt), Wesley Chapel (Harrogate), and chamber music concerts at the De Doelen (Rottterdam), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Charleroi), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and Concertgebouw (Bruges).
Based in Brussels, he spends most of his free time reading, swimming or enjoying a good series, and is actively engaged in a number of social projects, all rooted in the idea that music, far beyond its aesthetic value, can be a force of change for anyone ready to listen.