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Hélène Grimaud in London on 11 September

Author: sounding images

On 11 September 2001, Hélène Grimaud's concert at the Royal Albert Hall shows how music can be a means of consolation in tragic moments.

  • Hélène Grimaud | Copyright: © Mark Hennek

    Hélène Grimaud © Mark Hennek

  • Christoph Eschenbach | Copyright: © Manu Theobald

    Christoph Eschenbach © Manu Theobald

September 11, 2001, was supposed to be a joyous day for Hélène Grimaud. From her adopted home in New York, she traveled to London to make her eagerly awaited debut at the BBC Proms. She has prepared Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto with the Orchestre de Paris under Christoph Eschenbach.

But after the dress rehearsal at the Royal Albert Hall, everything is uncertain from one moment to the next. A plane had hit the World Trade Center.

Christoph Eschenbach is having lunch with the French ambassador when he hears about the terrorist attack. He and the organizer of the Proms, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, have to make a decision: Can a concert be staged on such a day?

Eschenbach and Grimaud are ready to play. The mood is depressed. Over Hélène Grimaud's performance lies the leaden mantle of the attack with numerous dead. "Her concert was one of peace," comments pianist Sophie Pacini. And indeed, after the opening G major chord is sounded with trembling fingers, Hélène Grimaud plays herself increasingly free. The moment of the catastrophic events, the pressure, the questions inspire her more and more to a "magic moment of music".

The hall is charged with tension. The Proms audience holds its breath, feels with it. A sense of community emerges that Orchestre de Paris violist Estelle Villotte remembers more than two decades later. "I cried on my viola during the concert. But Christoph Eschenbach and Hélène Grimaud carried me through it."

The images of New York appear, at least for a moment, overshadowed by Hélène Grimaud's play. The mood dissolves. The audience reacts with a standing ovation.

Original title Sternstunden der Musik | Der 11. September 2001: Hélène Grimaud in London
Duration 43 minutes
Director Holger Preuße, Philipp Quiring
Producer Claus Wischmann
Executive Producer Christopher Janssen
Production Company ZDF/ARTE, sounding images
Orchestra / Band Orchestre de Paris
Conductor Christoph Eschenbach
Soloist Hélène Grimaud
English title of music work Piano Concerto No. 4
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
Distribution VOD C Major Entertainment GmbH

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