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French Pianist Colette Maze has Died, Aged 109

The last surviving proponent of the Cortot school, Maze released an album in 2023 — at the tender age of 109

 

The French pianist Colette Maze, who made history earlier in 2023 when she became the oldest pianist ever to release an album, has passed away at the age of 109.

Born in Paris in 1914, Maze was raised in a musical family: her mother was a violinist and her grandmother a pianist. Having begun to learn the piano aged 5, Maze entered the École Normale de Musique at 15, where she studied with Alfred Cortot, Nadia Boulanger, and Jeanne Blanchard.

Despite wanting to become a concert pianist, Maze was discouraged from pursuing this route by her parents, and instead taught the instrument at the École Normale de Musique and at the conservatoire in Bagneux.

Maze was a piece of living history, in that she was our last link with these historic pedagogues. She was the last remaining proponent of the Cortot method — a pre-war approach to technique that focuses on relaxation and flexibility.

When Maze had entered her 90s, her son encouraged her to make recordings in order to preserve a record of her technique. In total, she released seven albums. The last of these, in June 2023, was 109 ans de piano (109 Years of the Piano) — an album featuring works by Debussy, Gerswin, Schumann, Sakamoto, and Piazzolla.

"I'm young!" Maze told the French newspaper Le Figaro in March 2023 at the age of 108. "Age, this is a story that does not exist. There are people who are eternally young, amazed by everything, and then people who are jaded by everything and who have never loved anything, not even their boyfriend!"

You can hear Maze play and speak about her life in an interview with Deutsche Welle below.

 

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