Yvonne Loriod’s godmother Madame Sivade, a distinguished piano teacher and assistant of Lazare Lévy, encouraged young Yvonne to give private piano recitals every month. She also encouraged her goddaughter to include works from all periods of the repertoire. As a result, by the age of fourteen Loriod knew the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, Bach’s Das wohltemperierte Klavier, the complete works of Chopin and Schumann and all of Mozart’s piano concertos.
At the Paris Conservatoire Loriod studied first with Lazare Lévy, but as he did not teach there during World War II, Loriod completed her studies with Marcel Ciampi, winning a premier prix in his class in 1943. At the Conservatoire Loriod also studied with Joseph Calvet, composition with Darius Milhaud, and harmony and analysis with Olivier Messiaen. During her period at the Paris Conservatoire she was awarded seven premiers prix, and whilst there added works by Debussy and Ravel to her repertoire as well as those by contemporary composers including Boulez, Schoenberg and Bartók. She gave the first performances in France of Bartók’s Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2 and has in her repertoire sonatas by Boulez, Jolivet, Barraqué and Amy. In 1949 Loriod made her debut in America playing Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and played the same work in London in 1953 with the London Symphony Orchestra and Walter Goehr. She had previously appeared in London’s Wigmore Hall in 1947 in a concert for the London Contemporary Music Centre.
Loriod’s career has been one of performing and teaching. She has performed throughout Europe as well as North and South America, Canada, Africa and Japan and given master-classes in America, Argentina and many European centres including Darmstadt. Loriod taught at the Paris Conservatoire for more than twenty years and her pupils include Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Paul Crossley, Peter Donohoe and Roger Muraro. Loriod also spends much of her time on the juries of piano competitions for which she is in great demand.
Loriod is famous for her performances of the music of Messiaen. She became the composer’s second wife in 1961, and since his death has been the leading authority on his music. Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen and Vingt regards sur l’Enfant Jésus are dedicated to her, and after her marriage she gave the first performances of all Messiaen’s works for piano. Loriod is also known for her performances of music by her Conservatoire contemporaries, particularly Pierre Boulez. It was in 1961 that they performed his second book of Structures at Donaueschingen.
Loriod recorded the complete piano music of Messiaen in the late 1960s and 1970s, and a boxed set of seventeen compact discs was issued by Erato in 1988 to commemorate the composer’s eightieth birthday. A few of the shorter works are not included in the set even though Loriod recorded them for Erato. After giving the first performance of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen for two pianos, Loriod and Messiaen recorded the work on 78rpm discs for the Contrepoint label in 1949. The recording appeared on LP on the Dial label, but has recently been issued on compact disc by FMR Records coupled with Messiaen’s own recording of his Études de rythme made in 1951 for French Columbia. Loriod’s 78rpm recordings for Pathé made in the late 1940s include a prelude and fugue by Bach, a Schumann novelette and four works by Messiaen. Other recordings of note for Erato include the Douze Études by Debussy and selections from Albéniz’s Iberia.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10).