Myriam Barbaux-Cohen, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music, and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

It was the encounter with the instrument!  I don’t come from a family of musicians. When I met a piano at around 10 or 11 years old, rather by chance, I could not leave the keyboard all day. Then I asked my parents to play the piano and it was not very convincing.. I had to insist, I imagine (I don’t remember), because I had the right to one lesson!  Coming out of the lesson, I said “this is what I want to be”. So my parents bought a piano in a flea market. ‘He’ was 86 years old, with a wooden frame and candle holders….. Then after a few months they invested in a better one and a more experienced teacher, because they saw that I was already spending a lot of time at the piano and apparently learning fast.

At the age of 19 I met the Lithuanian pianist Muza Rubackyte, with whom I worked for a long time. She was a great influence, taught me a lot, and believed in me during my studies.

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

Life has ups and downs, and ultimately the start of my career is right now!  The biggest challenge is to convince, when we start quite late, and have not gone down the conventional path of conservatoire….. but with time, we can do it.

In the end, what matters is to convince with your music. And sometimes it takes time. Then the chance to have recorded a first album last year, was the second very big, but very beautiful challenge for me.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

Having recorded this first album is a great satisfaction to me. I did it because a label and everyone around me believed in it!  Being little known is a challenge (another one), but since the album is receiving great reviews, that makes me very happy and reassured.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Very difficult to judge yourself. But probably the extremely expressive works, where the quality of the sound has a great importance and where I can also mix my universe with that of the composer

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

Something I did not do 10 or 15 years ago because I studied so hard was to live a real life. Everyday life, with friends, love, travel, culture….if we live “nothing”, we have less to talk about while playing! Treks in nature (forests, countryside…) are very inspiring too.

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

As I said before, I am at the very beginning of my professional career, so I did not yet have the chance to perform season after season. Just a solution, the love of the music, then the time to think about it, to put the works together, to decipher a lot, in order to be completely sure of putting the work on the programme.

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

I don’t, for the moment, but each place has its atmosphere, each place means that the concert cannot be the same, even with the same programme.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

Broad topic… And complicated. I imagine through education in school, but it is already done a little, it seems to me. Making music is often reserved for people who have known classical music from a very young age, and for those who have not had this chance, classical music can seem cheesy.  Perhaps imagine, in conservatoires, 2 courses, one more deep for future professionals, and one for pleasure. Because classical music, in the end, is not only for those who want to make it their profession, is it not?

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

On stage fully, with more and more concerts!  With several albums behind me, but always accompanied by my love, and a cat!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

As above!  My love, my cat, and knowing that my music is appreciated, and if, in addition, we can eat chocolate and walk in the forest … perfect!

What is your present state of mind?

Impatient to know if my first album dedicated to piano music by Enrique Granados will take me to beautiful concerts and beautiful projects!

Myriam Barbaux Cohen is a French pianist living in Germany and sponsored by C. Bechstein pianos. Her debut disc of music by Enrique Granados is available now.

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