Jean-François Heisser is a well-rounded artist, leading a versatile career as a pianist, conductor and teacher, fueled by a vast cultural knowledge and tireless intellectual curiosity. Born in Saint-Étienne, France, he is the disciple and heir of Vlado Perlemuter, Henriette Puig-Roget and Maria Curcio.
From 1991 to 2016, he was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. Among his talented students are Bertrand Chamayou and Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, with whom he has developed a relationship of close musical complicity.
Presently, he balances his career between being a Musical Director for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra (since 2001), a guest conductor, as a solo artist, and as an Artistic Director of various institutions and major musical productions. As a soloist, he has played under the baton of renowned conductors such as Janowski, Tilson Thomas, Segerstam, Krivine, Mehta, Plasson, Roth etc., with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Orchestre National de France or Les Siècles, and more. He frequently performs in recitals, with a preference for Beethoven (Sonatas, Diabelli Variations etc.), Brahms, Chopin, the Spanish repertoire (Albéniz, de Falla, Granados, Mompou), as well as the works of great French composers of the past and present.
Alongside his performances of great concertos and major works of the piano repertoire, he is also an eager proponent: S. Poltronieri of 20th century works and contemporary creation: the Turangalilâ-Symphonie and Olivier Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles, under the direction of Mehta, Janowski or Segerstam; Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke, Mantra and Kontakte; or the world first performance, among others, of Gilbert Amy and Nguyen Thien Dao’s Piano Concertos, along with three major works by Philippe Manoury: La Ville, Veränderungen pour piano seul and Terra Ignota for piano and 22 musicians. His unequal approach to interpretation leads him to perform regularly on period pianos (Weber: The Four Sonatas – Praga Records -, Konzertstück – on Mirare-). Under the direction of François Xavier Roth and his orchestra “Les Siècles”, he also alternates between modern pianos (the three Bartok concertos) and period instruments (Saint-Saëns and Brahms).
As a chamber musician, Jean-François Heisser has, needless to say, covered the entire repertoire with musical partners such as the Ysaye, Lindsay and Pražák Quartets, and his recording of the Bartok sonatas with Peter Csaba (on Praga) is now regarded as an essential work. Additionally, he has emerged as a leading advocate of the four-hands piano repertoire and of works for two pianos, notably with G. Pludermacher, M.J Jude and J.F Neuburger, and has also written daring and magnificent transcriptions for two pianos of works such as The Rite of Spring or the Symphonie Fantastique (recording with Marie-Josèphe Jude – Harmonia Mundi Jan 19).
As a Musical Director, Heisser has been in charge of developing the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra project since 2001, firmly establishing the orchestra as one of the finest French chamber ensembles, as reflected in its recordings on the Mirare label: the orchestra’s rendering of a primitive version of de Falla’s El Amor Brujo as well as of Berg’s Kammerkonzerte. Both recordings were widely acclaimed by the press. As an Artistic Director, his ongoing partnership with Editions Actes-Sud has led him to direct the musical program of the Soirées Musicales d’Arles. From 2015 onwards, he has served as the Artistic Advisor of the Festival de l’Orangerie de Sceaux.
Moreover, his extensive discography boasts over 40 recordings: after his highly acclaimed recording of the piano works of Paul Dukas (awarded the Diapason d’or de l’année prize), he embarked on a collaboration with Erato Records (a 6-CD boxed set dedicated to the Spanish repertoire of Schumann, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, etc.), then with Naïve Records (Beethoven, Brahms) and Praga Records (Weber, Berg, Manoury, Bartok…). His recording activities are currently centered on recordings with the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra for Mirare. Albums include de Falla, Wien 1925, Dubois, American Journey, Edition of the Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos and more. More recently, recordings of Marie-Josèphe Jude with Heisser’s transcription for 2 pianos of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Harmonia Mundi) have been released.