Emile Naoumoff has been likened to both Vladimir Horowitz and Artur Rubinstein as a pianist, and was also recognized as a serious composer before his 20th birthday. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1962, Naoumoff revealed himself a musical prodigy at age five, taking up study of the piano and adding composition to his studies a year later. At the age of eight, after a fateful meeting in Paris, he became the last disciple of Nadia Boulanger, who referred to him as "The gift of my old age". He studied with her until her death in late 1979. During this auspicious apprenticeship, Mlle. Boulanger gave him the opportunity to work with Clifford Curzon, Igor Markevitch, Robert and Gaby Casadesus, Nikita Magaloff, Jean Francaix, Leonard Bernstein, Soulima Stravinsky, Aram Khachaturian and Yehudi Menhuin. Lord Menhuin conducted the premiere of Naoumoff's first piano concerto, with the composer as a soloist when he was ten years old. At the same time, he pursued studies at the Paris Conservatory with Lelia Gousseau, Pierre Sancan, Genevieve Joy-Dutilleux, as well as at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with Pierre Dervaux (conducting).
Upon the death of Mlle. Boulanger, Naoumoff took over her classes at the summer sessions of the Conservatoire d'Art Americain in Fontainebleau. Later, in 1984, he was appointed at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, Paris. In 1981, at age 19, he was signed as a composer -- the youngest on their roster -- with the music publisher Schott, Mainz.
Naoumoff's reputation as a piano virtuoso dates from 1984 when he substituted without notice for a stricken pianist in a performance of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Monte Carlo. That concert earned him the comparisons to Horowitz and Rubinstein, displaying -- as one critic remarked -- the fire of the former and the poetry of the latter. In the years since, he is regularly invited by the world's premier orchestras: the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony, the Vienna Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony in Washington, Moscow Symphony, NHK Symphony, the Residentie Orkest of the Hague, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France, Camerata Bern, and has collaborated closely with renowned conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Igor Markevitch, Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich and Eliahu Inbal and others. He also earned a personal invitation from Rudolf Serkin to perform at the Marlboro Festival and has given recitals throughout Europe, the USA and Asia. Naoumoff was invited to the Evian Festival, presided by M. Rostropovich, with whom he performed. He has also collaborated with renowned musicians such as Jean-Pierre Rampal, Gerard Souzay, Yo-Yo Ma, Gary Hoffman, Olivier Charlier, Patrice Fontanarosa, Regis Pasquier, Philippe Graffin, Philippe Bernold, and Gerard Caussé, Jean Ferrandis, Dominique de Williencourt and the Fine Arts Quartet.
Some highlights of his performing career include a performance of the Grieg Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and a performance of his own piano concerto version of Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. under the baton of Mstislav Rostropovich. He has received numerous awards, including the Médaille d'honneur de Paris, an honour bestowed upon him by Jacques Chirac, and the Prix de Composition de l'académie des Beaux Arts. Recent years Naoumoff has been invited to numerous music festivals such as the San Francisco friends of chamber music's Menuhin seminars, Santander Summer Masterclasses, the Verbier Academy Festival in Switzerland. Naoumoff also enjoys regular invitations for mini residencies at Conservatory of Barcelona (ESMUC). In 1996, he opened his own summer academy at the Chateau de Rangiport in Gargenville, France in the spirit of Nadia Boulanger. Since 1998, Emile Naoumoff is a professor at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
OPUS DISSONUS - What was your first contact with the art of composing? What motivated you to start?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Composing is not an art for me it is a need
OPUS DISSONUS - How does your compositional process works?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Inner build up of feelings to leave for others to hopefully emote to.
OPUS DISSONUS - Which ones of your works may, in your own view, be regarded as "introductory" or "obligatory" for those who want to know more about your compositions?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Each and none ...
OPUS DISSONUS - How would you describe your own style of composing?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - I can't but others do by recognizing it
OPUS DISSONUS - Who are the composers who have had the greatest influence on your work, from the earliest compositions to the present?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Composers who move me such as Bach Stravinsky Faure Albeniz filter through me perhaps.
OPUS DISSONUS - You had contact with some of the greatest names of the piano playing in the past, including Horowitz, Rubinstein and Serkin, and you also wrote a book about your 10 years of studies with Nadia Boulanger. What are you most personal remembrances of these people?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Menuhin' s humility, Rostropovitch's speed learning capacity, Nadia Boulanger's respect for a student...
OPUS DISSONUS - You wrote a Symphonia Concertante and a Symphonic Poem. Do you have plans for more compostions in these forms?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - I do not plan.
OPUS DISSONUS - Being known as a piano virtuoso you are invited several times to play piano works by the greatest composers of the past like Schumann, Chopin, etc. How often do you play your own works in your recitals and concerts today?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Anti chronologically the dead composers music brings them constantly alive , I introduce never impose according to demand of my music in a concert while playing also music of real living composers such as Yuko Uebayashi's.
OPUS DISSONUS - You made piano transcriptions of works by Bach, Fauré and Mozart, and you also composed a very interesting piano concerto based on Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". What are your thoughts about the importance of the art of transcription for the piano?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - It is not an art rather a taylor made glove I make for my playing on
piano of beloved works not intended for it
OPUS DISSONUS - - You have worked as Professor at Indiana University Bloomington (USA) and given several Master-classes at Château de Rangiport (France), which houses the Académie Internationale de Musique. What teaching music means to you?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - Help a student build his lock rather than giving the keys to solve
their problems and progress in hearing and playing
OPUS DISSONUS - In your opinion, what can we expect for the future of classical music?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - The need for innerness in each of us, soul search
OPUS DISSONUS - What are your impressions of the youngest generation of composers? Do you know them?
EMILE NAOUMOFF - I know of a few in the plethora and do like Jean Baptiste Doulcet and the young improviser Francesco Schlimé. I privilege sincere expression to dogmas
OPUS DISSONUS - What words would you say to an aspiring composer?
EMILE NAOUMOFF -No need they will do if they feel their calling being there are no two similar paths...