Cédric Pescia, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

My parents were not familiar with classical music. I was introduced to piano at school when I was 7; it was a shock and a blessing; I remember I was so excited I could hardly sleep for a few days. I was fortunate that my parents gave me the possibility to take piano lessons. During my childhood and my teens they were just wonderful, always supporting me in my learning and discovering processes, but never pushing me.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My 3 main teachers Christian Favre, Dominique Merlet and Klaus Hellwig, all wonderful human beings and musicians.

The artists I worked with during masterclasses: Daniel Barenboim, Leon Fleisher, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Fou T’Song.

My wife Nurit Stark, an exceptional violinist


Jean-Luc Godard, North Indian classical music, Francis Bacon, Kafka, Dostoyevsky Paul Celan, John Cage, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Peter Brook, Ingmar Bergman, Fernando Pessoa, Roberto Bolaño, David Lynch and many others

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

For 6 years I have had an almost full-time position as a piano professor at the University in Geneva. It’s a real challenge manage in parallel my teaching and performing careers.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

In 2010, together with my friend the piano technician Thomas Hübsch, I organized in Berlin a complete performance of Vexations by Erik Satie, that lasted 26 hours. We invited more than 30 pianists to take part and perform (friends, colleagues, Daniel Barenboim even agreed to participate); it was a wonderful feast and celebration, absurd and profound!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Polyphonic music, Schumann, French music

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Each year I learn and perform a big piece from the last 50 years (recently it has been works by Stockhausen, Boulez, Ligeti, Gerard Grisey). I also try to focus on a composer from the past with whom I’m not yet familiar (in the last years Janacek, Enescu, Bloch).  And I go back to some composers I played already, especially Bach and Schumann whose complete works for piano I have in my repertory

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

A theatre close to Lausanne (Switzerland), the TKM Théâtre Kléber-Meleau, a beautiful hall with 300 seats, where I’ve been organizing a festival for the past 12 years. It’s like a second home to me and year after year I developed a wonderful relationship with a faithful audience 

Who are your favourite musicians?

Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Bartók 

Arthur Schnabel, Radu Lupu, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Miles Davis, Ravi Shankar, Thelonius Monk, Jordi Savall, Maria Callas

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I played the Colombian premiere of Bach’s complete Art of Fugue in Bogota in front of more than 1000 people, mostly under 20 years old, listening religiously.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To be able to play the music I love for attentive, open-minded, possibly young audiences. 

I also consider it a mission to go and play in countries where classical music is not very well represented 

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

They should discover their own personal paths, listen to many kinds of music, read, watch movies, go to the theatre, explore their body, learn languages, observe the nature in movement

What is your most treasured possession?

My memory 

What is your present state of mind?

Hungry for discoveries


Cédric Pescia’s new recording of J S Bach’s complete Well-Tempered Clavier was released on 28 September. Further information

Cédric Pescia, pianist of dual French and Swiss nationality, was born in Lausanne. He studied with Christian Favre at the Conservatoire de Musique in Lausanne, later with Dominique Merlet at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva where he earned a Premier Prix de Virtuosité with honors and completed his studies with Klaus Hellwig at the Universität der Künste in Berlin.

In addition he has studied with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Daniel Barenboim, Henri Barda, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Ivan Klansky, Christian Zacharias, Ilan Gronich and with the Alban Berg Quartet. From 2003 until 2006 he was invited to attend the famous International Piano Academy, Lake Como (Italy) where he worked with Dimitri Bashkirov, Leon Fleisher, William Grant Naboré, Menahem Pressler, Andreas Staier and Fou Ts’ong.

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