Pierre Villenave

Composer and Music teacher

France

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About

Pierre Villenave was born in Chamonix, France. Playing cello since his 8th spring, he was mostly focused on becoming an illustrator until he reached the age of 18 when he suddenly decided to devote himself to music. After a chaotic journey, he obtained a Master degree in music composition applied to visual arts (MAAAV) at the Université Lumières Lyon 2. Then, he chose to teach cello, music theory, and animate sound-design work groups (with theater classes) in primary schools. He keeps composing music during his freetime.

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Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

First of all, thank you for your interest, this is unexpected and gratifying. I'm convinced that music is the best price-quality ratio therapist of the world. I'm used to listen to it almost anytime I'm wandering outside, reading, enjoying a coffee on the terrace and it significantly enhance everyday life moments of my life.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I'm not sure about what you mean by „fantasy“. Music is a very concrete way to express myself with some reserve, but I can't deny that it's one of the best way to narrate anything you want.

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

A librarian or a vet for elephants for sure.

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

Not at all, there will be soon a fresh new old generation to refill it ! Jokes apart, I'm more worried for the orchestras themselves, the halls, and every area where classical musicians can perform.

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?

Like many of us, I'm not optimistic about 21st century. I feel difficult to envision my own future for years to come so it would be presumptous to do it for Music. I'd say that its main goal is to maintain a significant place in society without thinking about a role, which should be defined by the audience itself.

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

I'm pretty sure that nowadays musicians don't need to be more or less creative than they are. Many of them are constantly innovating, in a way or in another, and I'm very impressed and overwhelmed by their efforts. Creativity in the musical process is, for me, the little thing which convince you to achieve a work. But it is a little tricky because I frequently mess up my works while focusing on creativty, which turned to gobbledygook !

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

Sharing personnal concerts exepriences is, according to my very humble experience in music theory theaching, can be a way to awake student's curiosity. Stravinsky's Firebird or Ravel's Bolero are my favorite's exemples : They are way more relevant in live concert than played with earphones.

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

This very difficult to talk about without sounding pretentious ! For one of my favourites, I tried to create an entire piece based on parallelisms and 7th interval, structured like a choral, Moreover, each rest was punctuated by a rough pedal noise. It seemed to be a nice idea but I had to make many little concessions before reaching what I wanted : a very peaceful and melancholic piece. The funny thing is that pedal noises sounded very nice on an old upright piano and very poorly on a grand piano !

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

Sure : my advice is to chose a composer who arises your curiosity, no matter the style and without listening to anyone else's advice. Then, if you enjoyed the experience or at least found it interesting, read about the human being behind the work. Knowing the story of the women, or the men, will help you to fully appreciate their work, to imagine the mindset of the composers when they wrote it. Beethoven is the perfect example for me : knowing more about his life made me understand many things about the evolution of his music. Plus, I now pay him the respect and the affection he deserves !

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Not really, because I'm not used to be played ! But there is always someone in my thoughts when I write „good“ music.

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

First, I have to finish the recomposition of my piano works, then I don't know yet. Maybe a new collection of little pieces for cello and piano !