Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (b. 1961) and his partner of 18 years, Paul, have homes in Los Angeles and Paris and often travel together. In fact, Thibaudet will not accept invitations unless his partner is also included.
“Very often I have invitations to go to dinner parties with heads of states or royalty or ambassadors or whoever and I’ll always say I have a companion with me and I’d like him to be invited,” says the French classical pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, age 51. “And though I don’t say it, what that basically means is, if he’s not invited, I’ll not come.”
In demand around the globe, Thibaudet tours nine months out of the year. He is a physical stand-out, with frosted hair and custom designed concert attire. His partner Paul, who works as an international marketing consultant, frequently accompanies Jean-Yves on his concert tours. “Music has been a very important part of our relationship. When I play and he’s in the audience, there’s certain things that I know he feels. It’s not the same for me when he’s not there.”
Their passion for music isn’t restricted to the classical. “We like jazz, we both love opera...We have a lot of pop music as well, Brazilian music, tangos. Paul knows the latest albums. So with him I’m always right on top of things.”
Thibaudet himself has made nearly 40 recordings, ranging from classical concertos and recitals to the jazz of Duke Ellington and pianist Bill Evans.
Thibaudet's concert attire is designed by Vivienne Westwood. He first asked her to design an outfit for his appearance at the London Proms in 2002, and she has been creating concert clothing for him ever since. He often wears shocking red socks when performing. “Rigid clothes just give the wrong impression of classical music, dusty, old and boring. People can relate to you more in clothes that they can identify with. I've loved fashion since I was a little boy. I met a lot of designers when I was a teenager, went to a lot of shows — and fashion became a part of my life.”
Jean-Yves was born in Lyon, France, where he began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. At twelve, he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Aldo Ciccolini and Lucette Descaves, a friend and collaborator of Maurice Ravel. At age fifteen, he won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire and three years later, won the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York City. In 2001, the Republic of France awarded Thibaudet the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2002, he was awarded the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy for his artistic achievements and his long-standing involvement with the festival. In 2007, he was awarded the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique.
Photo below: a young Thibaudet before the blond highlights and designer-chic concert attire.
A personal note: I'm privileged to have tickets to hear Thibaudet perform live tonight. It will be a gay old time at the Kennedy Center June 22, when Thibaudet will play the Saint-Saëns fifth piano concerto (the exotic “Egyptian”) with the National Symphony Orchestra. When asked about his homosexuality, composer Camille Saint-Saëns (see sidebar) answered "I'm not gay, I'm a pederast"; at that time being gay (homosexual) was illegal, but a "pederast" was merely a man who practiced the Greek ideal of a grown man expressing love towards a young man. Go figure. The concert will open with Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite; Edvard Grieg had a major homosexual affair with Australian pianist/composer Percy Grainger (see sidebar). Young hottie conductor Krzysztof Urbanski (b. 1982 – I’m not kidding) will direct from the podium. While straight, it should be noted, however, that the Polish-born Urbanski is equipped with a VERY long Mollard (photographic evidence below).