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Colette Maze

Pianist Colette Maze began making recordings late in life and released her sixth album in 2021 at the age of 107, with more planned for the future. Maze was one of the last students of legendary pianist and teacher Alfred Cortot. Maze was born in Paris on June 16, 1914, into a well-off family. Among her first memories was of hiding in the basement as German gunners shelled Paris during World War I. Her father was a fertilizer plant manager, her mother a pianist who sometimes organized concerts in the family home. Maze took up the piano at age five and soon began to devote herself seriously to the instrument; her home life, she told Ireland's RTÉ network, was marked by a "lack of tenderness," and she experienced the piano as a refuge. Maze enrolled at the École Normale de Musique in Paris when she was 15 after an audition with Cortot, the school's director. She also studied with Nadia Boulanger and Jeanne Blanchard. She credits her pianistic longevity in part to the yoga lessons she was given during this period. Very few women succeeded in becoming concert pianists at the time, and the roadblock that was thrown in Maze's way was typical. As her final exams approached, her parents, hoping that she would give up her piano career and marry well, forbade her from staying in their part of their house, where the piano was, and insisted that she stay in a maid's quarters. Thus, Maze was unable to prepare to the fullest. She did not pass the exam's top level, which would have qualified her to become a concert pianist, but instead reached the second level. This enabled her to become a piano teacher, and she spent much of her career working in various Paris music schools. Maze did not marry at first; she said that she had married the piano, but she did have one son, Fabrice; and raising him as a single mother further estranged her from her family. She later married. Later in her life, Fabrice urged her to make recordings to preserve her accomplishments. At first, Maze demurred, but Fabrice persisted, pointing out that products of Cortot's unique teaching methods were very few. Finally, she agreed, and she released her first album in 2001 when she was nearly 90. Most of her recordings have been devoted to Debussy, one of her favorite composers. With each new recording gaining more and more publicity, Maze was signed to the Continuo Classics label and released her debut album there, Colette Maze Interprète Claude Debussy, in 2015. Albums titled 104 Ans de piano and 105 Ans de piano followed, and in 2021, Maze released Un Siècle avec Debussy on Continuo Classics; the album compiled some of her earlier Debussy recordings. As of that year, Maze had several more Debussy recordings in the works.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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