The French pianist talks about life, music and why Debussy used to make him cry.

So what attracted you to the piano?

I grew up in a musical environment. My mother was a music teacher and I grew up in a region in France called Lorraine near Germany in a city called Metz. I did my regular studies there. I learned several instruments, which I think is a very good thing when you are a young musician. I studied oboe, percussion for almost ten years and piano.

Metz was at that time – in the 70s and 80s – a very important town for contemporary music. Every year there were major festivals for new musical creations. I had the opportunity to meet and hear them explaining their pieces – all the great composers from Xenakis, Boulez, Stockhausen, Messiaen and Kagel. And this of course, even if it happened only a couple of days a year, was opening my ears to a new sound world. I also studied electronic music there. At that time all the synthesisers were analogue and not digital like today, but nevertheless I had a rather complete musical education.

Then I continued my studies in Paris. I had...