Félicien Brut and Fabien Waksman meet in 2019. To set up his NEUF project around Beethoven, Félicien must call upon several composers of today. When Thibault Perrine advises him to listen to Fabien Waksman’s music, he is immediately seduced and touched by his talent. He asked for a meeting but… the young composer first told him of his reservations about writing for the accordion! With the Pari des Bretelles album in hand, it took him a few days to think about it and finally launch into the adventure!

“I listened to your record and I have to admit that this accordion and string quintet formation is wonderful! If you’re still up for it, I’ll write for you.”

Fabien Waksman to Félicien Brut – by phone in 2019

Fabien then began writing his first piece for accordion and string quintet, Carcere Oscura, one of the nine compositions on the album NEUF, freely inspired by Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. As soon as he received the score, Félicien was captivated by this music full of contrasts, bursts of energy, and sometimes even violence. The public, too, fell under the spell of this piece and systematically gave it an incredible welcome during the concerts of the NEUF sextet. Further proof of success, Fabien Waksman was awarded the Grand Prix Lycéens des Compositeurs in early 2022 for this work.

Given the success of this first collaboration and Fabien Waksman’s totally changed view of the accordion, Félicien decided to commission him, in 2021, to write a piece of a completely different dimension: a Concerto for accordion and symphony orchestra. L’Île-du-Temps, this concerto in three movements, was premiered in October 2021 with the Orchestre National Bordeaux-Aquitaine, conducted by Antonio Méndez. It was recorded a few months later with the same orchestra, under the direction of Pierre Dumoussaud, and thus became the central piece of Félicien’s latest album released by Erato/Warner Classics: J’ai deux amours.

Once again, Fabien Waksman’s talent was rewarded as he received the Victoire de la Musique 2023 award for Composer of the Year for this concerto. This is a historic moment: for the first time, a Victoire de la Musique is awarded to a composer for a work written for accordion!

Fabien Waksman, in a few words…

Born in 1980, Fabien Waksman is one of the most important French composers of his generation. In 1999, he entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP) where he met great musical personalities such as Jean-François Zygel and Thierry Escaich. At the same time he studied composition with Guillaume Connesson.

He has received several awards for his work and his career: he was awarded the André Caplet prize for musical composition by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2011, and the following year he won the Sacem grand prize for symphonic music in the young composer category. He was also appointed professor of harmony at the CNSMDP at only 25 years old in 2006.

He was soon solicited by great conductors and important institutions: driven by his admiration for Debussy and Stravinsky, he was particularly noticed for his talents as an orchestrator. In 2009, the conductor Stéphane Denève commissioned him to write the symphonic pieces Solar Storm and Le Parfum d’Aphrodite, which he premiered with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In 2012, RadioFrance called on him for a new orchestral piece, Protonic Games, premiered by Daniele Gatti at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.His collaboration with the Orchestre National de France continued with the creation in 2019 of an unpublished music for a film by Charlie Chaplin, then with the composition of the music for the concert-fiction Moby-Dick in 2020, now published as a book-CD by Gallimard.

In 2018 he wrote his first concerto for cello and string orchestra, Le rêve de Tzinacán, dedicated to the cellist Anastasia Kobekina. A second concerto, for piano this time, was premiered in 2020 at the finals of the international piano competition “Piano Campus” in Paris. Fabien Waksman is currently working on a third concerto for the accordionist Félicien Brut which will be performed in the fall with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine.

Trained as a pianist, instrumental and vocal chamber music plays an important role in his work. He has collaborated with musicians such as Eric Le Sage, Emmanuel Pahut, Paul Meyer, Jérôme Ducros, Jérôme Pernoo, Florent Héau, Mathieu Herzog, Eva Zavaro, Guillaume Vincent, Claire-Marie Le Guay, Karol Mossakowsky, Félicien Brut, and the Hanson, Hermès and Aquilone quartets. He is regularly performed in festivals such as Musique à l’Emperi, Auvers-sur-Oise, Les Folles Journées de Nantes or the Centre de musique de chambre de Paris. He is currently composing a diptych of melodies inspired by Japanese literature on an original text by the poet Camille Loivier for the mezzo Brenda Poupard.

Fabien Waksman has also composed several operas commissioned by the Opéra National de Paris for young audiences: L’oiseau de glace (2012) and Epic Falstaff (2013), both written in collaboration with the director and librettist Florent Siaud. In 2014, he composed a large-scale fresco for children’s choir and orchestra on a text by William Blake, Europe, a Prophecy. In 2017 the National Orchestra of Lyon created La Clé d’argent, an operatic trilogy paying homage to the universe of H.P. Lovecraft. He deepened his work on vocal music through the composition of Sumanga’ for choir and harp on a commission from the Orchestre de Paris, a work freely inspired by traditional music from around the world.

Passionate about cosmology, Fabien Waksman collaborates with astrophysicist Jean-Philippe Uzan with whom he created in 2016 Le Baiser de la mort, quintet for strings and piano inspired by the discovery of gravitational waves. The duo is currently working on a cycle of melodies for soprano and prepared piano, the Hawking Songs, paying tribute to Stephen Hawking’s important discoveries about black holes. Curious and eager for new sound and musical horizons, Fabien Waksman is also initiating himself to electro-acoustic composition in collaboration with the Centre de Création Musicale Art Zoyd and the keyboardist Yukari Bertocchi-Hamada in view of a creation for piano and electronic keyboard in January 2022.

Fabien Waksman’s compositions for accordion