Famous Synesthetes

Hélène Grimaud

Hélène Grimaud

Hélène Grimaud © Jon Stich 2012

Hélène Grimaud is a French classical pianist. Born in Aix-en-Provence, France, Grimaud began playing piano at age 7 and within several years entered the Conservatoire de Paris. By age 15, she won top honors for her recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2, and launched her career as a professional musician two years later. Grimaud has performed with the most prestigious conductors and orchestras in the world and continues to tour regularly. Aside from her musical accomplishments, Grimaud is most famous for her work with the Wolf Conservation Center, which she co-founded in 1999, and for her grapheme-color and sound-color synesthesia. About her synesthesia, Grimaud has said, “It was when I was eleven, and working on the F sharp major Prelude from the first book of Bach's Well-tempered Clavier - I perceived something that was very bright, between red and orange, very warm and vivid: an almost shapeless stain, rather like what you would see in the recording control-room if the image of sound were projected on a screen. But as numbers had always had colours for me - two was yellow, four was red, five was green - and as I have always found music evocative, I didn't regard this as unusual. It was more the idea of colour than colour itself. Certain pieces always project me into a particular colour-world. Sometimes it's a result of the tonality - C minor is black, and D minor, the key that has always been closest to me, being the most dramatic and poignant is blue” (Credo, n.d.).

 

Sources:

Credo. (n.d.). Helene Grimaud Interviewed by Michael Church. Retrieved from: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/special/insighttext.htms?ID=grimaud-credo&DETAIL=1

Grimaud, H. (2012). About. Retrieved from http://www.helenegrimaud.com/en/about/biography

Grimaud, H. (2006). Wild harmonies: A life of music and wolves. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.