Jean-Pierre Vial





Jean-Pierre Vial is a French composer, born near Paris, France, in 1946.

While learning the piano and the organ, he composed several “juvenile” pieces for both instruments. More recently, he has composed various pieces for solo instruments, small ensembles, or chamber or symphony orchestras.

He received composition awards for such works as his “Præludium & fuga MMXVIII” for organ, or his chorale “Vor Johann Sebastian, tret ich hiermit” for nyckelharpa ensemble.

His Piano concerto in G minor, recently premiered by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Moldova (conducted by Mihail Agafiţa, soloist Diana Voroneţcaia) will soon be released on a CD.

His compositions represent about 100 pieces, seven hours and 1,000 pages of music, not including instrumental parts or various transcriptions.



What does music mean to you personally?

To me, Music is melody, harmony and balance of sounds.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Fantasy is only the emerged part of the music iceberg, the part inherent in melody. Music is more than fantasy. It is a construct based on fantasy. Ludwig van Bethoven said „Genie ist 1% Inspiration und 99% Transpiration“ – Genius is 1% inspiration und 99% perspiration– meaning that fantasy is at most 1% of music.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Hey! I am no professional musician. I learned the piano when I was a child, then the organ when my legs could reach the pedal, but I am a self-made composer. (I don't like „amateur“ which sounds a bit diletantish.) With a scientific background, I did work for the software industry, instead.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

No, I am not. There is still interest in classical music, even if classical music takes various renewed forms. Just think of film music. In my opinion, Ennio Morricone, Michel Legrand, or Vladimir Cosma (sorry for not mentioning many others) are quite classical composers. I would not say that their audience is getting old, indeed.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Film music is one role. I am no prophet, but I do believe there can be renewed interest in classical music in some future.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

To me, creativity lies inside the 1% of inspiration – what you call fantasy.
Because of intellectual property considerations, composers have to be creative. You cannot prove that your creation is original. On the contrary, it is easy to prove that a work was pirated. In the old ages, composers were not faced to that difficulty. They copied, disguised and sometimes improved other composers' work, whereas no one claimed about piracy. Nowadays, you cannot do that any longer. If I inadvertently imitated others, I hope they will forgive me.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

Despite the pandemic, youths are attracted to music concerts, but I believe it is not the classical music you are talking of. Online music dissemination is one way to be emphasized. Film music is another way. I agree that classical music concerts are now reserved for a much selective and somewhat elitist audience.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

When my fingers allowed me to play the piano, I used to improvise a lot. Then (thanks to Darwin!) a natural selection helped distinguish between what was good enough and what was terrible. This is how I composed „juvenile“ pieces like my Nocturne for piano in D flat.
Now, my creative process is mainly based on musical memory, or sometimes tunes chosen randomly, or else dreamt tunes (thanks again to Darwin who helps select among that stuff!). This is how I composed my Piano concerto in G minor, recently premiered.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I would suggest they do as we do when learning foreign languages. First listen, then speak, read and ultimately write. (By the way, this is what I recommended when teaching software languages –while skipping the auditive phases– because students too often start writing on their own before reading good writings.)

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Never. I only think of my ears. Often, depending on the performer(s), the audience (if any!) will hear something different from what I thought of. The musical rendering of a piece is a shared responsibility of the composer and the performer(s).

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I like experimenting, meaning learning. As often as possible, when I can potentially offer something worth hearing, I respond to call for scores (often calls for miniatures). As an emerging composer, I often had better recognition when experimenting and composing for unusual, rather than conventional instruments. (I guess many fellow composers are reluctant to venture into musical domains they would discover.)
After the recent premiere of my second Piano concerto, I plan to rework my first piano concerto (which will potentially be the second one to be premiered – hope that's clear enough!). That concerto was a compositional attempt, so it has to be improved before being premiered. To me, however, composition is just a hobby for filling in my spare time. So, it may take long before a premiere.
Thank you for gathering my musical thoughts, anyway!