- What’s the best thing about being Richard Clayderman?
One of the best things in being Richard Clayderman is to be offered the opportunity to perform on stage again (and again) in the 5 continents of the world.
- What’s the worst thing about being Richard Clayderman?
In fact, there is no worst thing about being Richard Clayderman. Sometimes I wish I could be anonymous in order not to be approached by people who want to talk with me or get an autograph but that is part of being Richard Clayderman which I happily and willingly accept.
- What’s your worst nightmare?
I dream that I am on stage in front of an audience and I do not remember what I’m to play… I don’t remember the notes. I wake up in a complete sweat and I’m relieved that it is only a dream…
- How do you live in private?
I like spending time going for a walks in the forest or on the beach when there is not too many people. I also like to pick up my son from school or take him to his basketball club. He really adores basketball and he plays very well. I like going shopping… doing simple things and most of all not thinking of anything.
- What makes you most happy to get up in the morning?
When I have to get up very early to catch a plane I hate getting up but when I know that I have time enough to do a little jogging along the seaside or in a beautiful park then I’m delighted.
I’m happy too when I have time to start working on a new piece of music which I have selected and when slowly I achieve the sound I want.
- What are the three things about you few people know about?
1. My nickname is Phiphi and all my close friends call me Phiphi.
2. I pay a lot of attention to what I eat in order to maintain my weight but it is true that when I see a beautiful dessert kit is hard to resist… I do love pastries!!!
3. One of my deepest regrets is not to be gifted in languages. I wish I was as it would be very helpful in my international career but definitely I am not.
- What’s your biggest indulgence?
One of them is that I’m meticulous. I like things to be perfectly in order, organised, and clean but in a way which is quite close to being too much… I try to fight against this indulgence but it is not easy to change such…
- How many pianos have you had so far? Pet lovers can’t stand to put sick pets to sleep. Do you feel the same way about your old, out of tune pianos?
In the past I have had up to 3 pianos in my home at the same time. Now I just have a grand piano in the drawing room and several electric pianos in other rooms. Today electric pianos are excellent, their keyboards are very similar to acoustic pianos and the advantage is that I can practice at night or early morning as I can adjust the volume therefore I do not disturb my family or the neighbours as acoustic pianos can be very loud…
I would like to have kept my old pianos but it was a question of space as I would have had to build another house just for my favourite pianos…
- How much of you is a pianist and how much a performer? Who are you first? Why?
I think that I was born a pianist but I have started to learn to be a performer when I have started my career 20 years ago. To perform on stage is something very special and very different if I compare it to when I was an accompanist. But now that I am a performer I must say that I really enjoy performing on stage as I have full direct contact with the audience. I feel it and I do enjoy it.
- With which feelings do you play your songs on stage?
I am trying to concentrate as much as I can in order to transmit, through the piano, all my feelings. I have often been asked if I was thinking of a sunset or a beautiful landscape while playing. In fact, I’m thinking of my music, how to play it the best way.
- Has music always been part of your life? When did you first know you wanted to be a pianist/performer? Is it true that you would like to be a tennis champ?
I was born with music around me. As my father was a piano teacher there was not one day without music at home. Accordingly I went to the keyboard quite naturally when I was 3 or 4. As I seemed to be interested my father showed me how to play. Then I went to music school and later on the music conservatory before I started to play as an accompanist. When I was 25 I started my own career. Therefore I can truly say that music has always been part of my life.
My dream when I was young was to be a pianist: I do not mean a solo performer but an accompanist, a session musician. I could not imagine that could be a solo performer: this would not have been realistic. Even when I did my first recording “Ballade pour Adeline”, I could not imagine that it would lead to a career.
Very often I am asked what I would have dreamed to be if I was not pianist and in most cases I answer that one of my dreams would be to be a tennis champion. Actually I started playing tennis when I was about 30 and I have such tremendous admiration for the champions that I regret not to be as good as they are.
- Do you have a musical dream, which you would like to realise in the future?
I wish I could one day do a recording with one of the American Jazz masters, it it’s not really a dream it’s more like a thought which crosses my mind sometimes. My priority is to always want to improve myself technically and in transmitting my feelings.
- Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on radio?
No, strangely I don’t remember it. When I am in China or some other distant country and I hear one of my songs on the radio, I am firstly pleased, then I try to listen carefully in order to pay attention to the way it sounds coming out of the speakers of the radio.
- Your music is often very romantic and emotional. Would you describe yourself as an emotional character?
I am rather calm, shy and reserved. I don’t like going out to discos, clubs or bars. I like to stay at home, with my family. I need to be in a quite environment in order to reload my batteries and get some energy in order to use it on my piano. I don’t speak loud and rarely get irritated. I keep everything inside, in that way I think that I am emotional and romantic.
- What would you do to make music if you were stranded on a deserted island with no piano in sight?
I would try to make music with a piece of reed or with a shell. I do admire these flute players who can make music with just a piece of wood or with a glass. I would also do some percussion with all the different kinds of material I would find on the island. In any case I would find a way to make music!!
- Are you also interested in other arts besides music or for example in sports?
I like other musicians’ music, especially instrumentalists like Chick Corea or Joe Sample. I like Jazz and Jazz Rock, I’m not interested in paintings and sculpture… that’s something I might discover in a few years time. However sport is something I really like and it has been a big part of my life for over 20 years. My guitarist Malik, who’s also a sportsman, made me discover jogging, working out and weight lifting in order to eliminate all the stress and recover the energy I will need on stage. I do like tennis even though I dedicate less time to it than before as my son is a passionate basketball player and has made me discover the pleasure of watching basketball match. A few years ago, I went to New York with my wife and son to especially watch basketball matches. I still have a great memory of this time.
- You have been in the music business for over 30 years. What has changed and what are your opinions concerning these changes?
A lot of things happened in the past 30 years and a lot of new styles have emerges like Techno and Rap. What is called ‘World Music’ or ‘Ethnic Music’ is something which has more importance now. Even though popular music is now evolving, Classical or Semi-Classical, Jazz, Rock or Disco are still alive. The extension of television channels and radio stations linked to the musical creation have created a need for everything new. We are in a world of creativity and consumers.
- You’ve been hailed as the Prince of Romance. Please complete this sentence: Being romantic to me means…
I don’t know whether you know the story of ‘The Prince of Romance’ but it was born in New York nearly 25 years ago. I had performed at the Waldorf Astoria for a charity concert and the president of this charity happened to be Mrs. Nancy Reagan, the former First Lady of America. After the concert Mrs. Reagan thanked me and said “You know Richard… you’re really a “Prince of Romance”. The journalists quoted this in the press and most of the articles were titled “The Price of Romance”. She meant that my style of music is romantic: soft, evoking love, emotions, feelings… As I am rather shy and reserved the combination of my music and personality are integral.
To be romantic is to be concerned with the beauty of the sky, of the sea, of nature, and to feel love while being surrounded by beauty.
- What’s the most romantic thing you have ever done?
To be romantic does not mean to be romantic from time to time: it comes from within: a general behaviour. In fact I do not do special things to be romantic but I think I am romantic in my own way of talking, playing the piano, smiling, laughing, moving. In fact I do not try to be so… I’m like this and people perceive it as being romantic.
- How would you describe your music? How do you feel that critics have called it “elevator”? Does it bother you at all?
This is true my music is often played in elevators, supermarkets, shops, in airplanes.. it is often background music when I’m put on hold when making telephone calls… this means that such kind of music is relaxing and anti-stressful. You can hear it without being disrupted but can also listen to it. I have been told that many drivers when they are locked in traffic jams, put on one of my CDs in order to catch their breath, lower their heart beat and/or simply relax. I also have been told that lots of babies have been made when my music was being played… that’s great… that’s the music of love!!! Nothing could please me more.