Labèque sisters: Dirk Bogarde was odious to us

Michael Johnson has been racing through the piano duo’s memoirs, Katia et Marielle Labèque : Une vie à quatre mains (Buchet et Castel).

The actor Dirk Bogarde, their neighbour in London in the 1980s, could not bear the sound of two pianos.

Olivier Messiaen tried to split them up:

Once as we were working on “Visions de l’Amen” at the Conservatory, someone poked his head around the corner – it was Olivier Messiaen… After listening to us, he said he wanted to rerecord the piece (superseding his recording of 1941). Would one of us be able to play it with his wife Yvonne Loriod? We refused, to avoid being separated, and finally Messiaen relented …

‘We have never felt the need to see each others’ hands in order to stay together. Only Olivier Messiaen asked us to move the pianos side-by-side to record his “Visions de l’Amen” because that is how he always played it with his wife Yvonne Loriod.’

More here.

 

 

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  • Islander says:

    This Dirk Bogarde story was mentioned in the press at the time – in the Times Diary, I seem to remember.

    • Sue says:

      I’m not sure I’d appreciate duo piano practice either. The fact that it’s classical music doesn’t mitigate the fact that for some people it’s unwanted noise which affects their amenity. I’m on the actor’s side here.

      • Nik says:

        If this happened in London he must’ve had some sort of pied-à-terre in the building where they lived. He had many properties. His main UK residence was in Amersham but I think in the 80s he spent most of his time in France.

        • B. Siek says:

          Sir Dirk’s home in Amersham was one of several he owned in the UK. He considered his “real” home to be that in France near Grasse. When he was forced for health reasons to leave his beloved home in France, he retired in London where he bought the penthouse flat in Chelsea. The L sisters occupied/rented? one of the lower flats. Sir Dirk lived there until his death in 1999.

  • B. Siek says:

    Who can blame Dirk Bogarde who was by then a best-selling writer and journalist? Trying to concentrate and write to meet deadlines when two pianists are going at their pianos 8+ hours a day, day after day, must have been terrible. Many buildings do not allow that or have strict hours for playing the piano, one piano, not two.

  • Barbara says:

    Who can blame actor Dirk Bogarde who was by then a best-selling writer and journalist? Trying to concentrate and write to meet deadlines when two pianists are going at their pianos 8+ hours a day, day after day, must have been terrible. Many buildings do not allow that or have strict hours for playing the piano, one piano, not two.

  • martain smith says:

    Could the sisters appreciate two horns, two tenors, or two sopranos next door? They are good popular artists – not top league enough it seems to find private quarters!

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