Known as the ‘Prince of Romance’, for his versatility in playing poignant tunes on the piano, Richard Clayderman was born in Paris in 1953. Learning the basics of piano from his father, who was a piano teacher, he joined the Conservatoire de Paris at the young age of 12 and on graduating began supplementing his income with earnings from piano recitals.
“From the age of 15, I was earning a living playing the piano and somewhere along the line record producers recognized my work and the rest as they say is history,” said Richard Clayderman during an exclusive interview with The Times.
The legendary pianist was in Kuwait, at the invitation of Al Mulla International Exchange, to participate in two-day concert for special invitees of the company. Clayderman has recorded close to 1,500 melodies, and has created a new romantic style that juxtaposes his trademark originals with classics and pop standards. He has devoted much of his time to performing concerts, going as far as playing 200 shows in as many days. “I have played in more than 65 countries around the world, even in the Middle-East; I was in Lebanon, in Syria, in Dubai and now, for the first-time in Kuwait. I am keenly awaiting the response to my first recital in this country,” said the pianist.
“The success of any pianist lies in their ability to faithfully transfer their emotions using their fingertips to the keyboards and to share it with audiences through the sound waves. I have noticed that audiences in this part of the world, in Asia in particular, are subdued in their response, their applause might be muted but they imbibe and appreciate the music more deeply. You might be playing to an audience of 35 or 40 thousand people in a stadium in China or Japan, but you wouldn’t know that from the applause at the end of a recital.”
When Richard’s first album was available on mail order, thousands of besotted women sent their cheques and fan letters. Nancy Reagan, the widow of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was credited with giving him the title of ‘Prince of Romance’. He has clocked up worldwide record sales of approximately 100 million, and has 267 gold and 70 platinum discs to his credit. He is popular in Asia and is noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as being "the most successful pianist in the world".
Accredited to his brilliance is a vast discography of over 200 albums, where he has infused his soulful touch to Andrew Lloyd Webber love songs, Bollywood movie soundtracks, and the folk music of Germany, Turkey, and Japan. Clayderman’s popularity resurged with the release of his 2013 album, ‘Romantique’ which features a mélange of film music, pop and light classical standards, as well as a re-recording of his best-known tune, ‘Ballade pour Adeline’.
A phenomenal star following the rendering of ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’, one of the biggest selling recordings of all time, Mr. Clayderman, has never allowed these accolades to go to his head. “What would I have become if not a pianist? Well, sports has always interested me, so probably a tennis or football player; but at the end of the day I would still love to play the piano,” added the pianist.
Propelled by hard work and dedication to his career, he has been in front of a piano every day practicing perfection, “They even have a piano in my hotel room and this morning I had the pleasure of playing on it while watching the waters of the Arabian Sea, lapping gently on the white sands below my hotel window. I am an enduring romantic at heart and this is reflected in all my recitals, said the Prince of Romance in conclusion.