Introduced to classical music at age five by Amélie Lambert, a student and disciple of Alfred Cortot, Jean-Pierre Armanet soon freed himself from the rigid confines of academicism.
Improvisation, which allows one to "listen to the fingers playing," was his first approach to music. It allowed him to understand the great composers while simultaneously finding his own acoustic path, as his teachers included Bach, Monk, Mozart and Reich all at once.
After completing his studies in Literature and Philosophy, Jean-Pierre Armanet attended the American School of Modern Music in Paris to expand his knowledge of jazz. It was at this time that his approach became more complex: allowing his classical knowledge to co-exist with and be enhanced by the rhythms and harmonies of jazz. He then formed a small band which played his first compositions, with Stéphane Agard on harmonica and Alain Morel on percussion.
His first compositions caught the attention of the film director Alain Ricco. Jean-Pierre Armanet put music to his documentaries. Their collaboration as friendsled Jean-Pierre to become a director himself during the 90s, for L'Etiquette Productions. The camera thus became a means of artistic expression, allowing images and music to be paired.
Gradually, his encounters with musicians led him to delve more deeply into the sphere of pure composition. Martine Vialatte – laureate of a First Prize diploma from the Paris Conservatory, a student of Gabriel Tacchino, who had previously recorded the work of contemporary composers such as François Bernard Mâche, Tristan Murail and Maurice Ohanna – heard his work and commissioned and performed two of his pieces for piano: "The T," which evokes the an American citizen's repetitive round trips on the Boston subway, and "Twins," a piece for two pianos which evokes the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001:
"This music," he says, "is first and foremost a reaction against intolerance, which has unjustified sacrificial consequences. One must leave behind the law of retaliation, of war and of terror, and that is the primary message of this piece of music.
Furthermore, I am very attentive to rhythmic power generally. Here the circumstances bring about a pulsation that, through its repetition, allows one to feel the Apocalypse. Twins is thus a kind of requiem without words." (In response to questions from the audience at a concert in May 2012)
He then composed, to cite some of the major works:
Improvisational pieces for solo piano, the Nocturnes.
The "Suite Urbaine" ("the Urban Suite"), a series of 15 pieces for piano and saxophone(s), each evoking a city of the world where a man lives and works. From Berlin to Buenos Aires, from Calcutta to Dakar and Rotterdam, each place has its own rhythm, tones and intimate pulse. Performance on January 29, 2016 (Piano: Martine Vialatte, Saxophone(s): Pascale Amiot).
The "Comptines de travers" ("Sideways Nursery Rhymes"), with their quirky pedagogical tone, for piano and voice, with help from the professional actors_ Noémie Landreau, Yvan Cori and Juliette Armanet on the theme of children’s nursery rhymes.
Works of religious music such as the Stabat Mater, which he dedicated to his friend, the mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes, after directing "Profession Diva," a documentary for television on the singer's work.
Compositions for chorus and orchestra such as the one commissioned by Isabelle Genin, choirmaster at Carré des Arts de la Celle Saint Cloud for the "Clodoald" choral ensemble. Vocal work for adult and children's chorus, piano (Yun Mi Kwon) and percussion (Stéphane David, a percussionist with the Paris Opera orchestra) on the migrant shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa. He also wrote the libretto. "Lampedusa, Oratorio des Migrants" ("Lampedusa, a migrants’ ontario"). in 21 scenes, which is the result of this collaboration.
He also composed – for four pianos, clarinets, string instruments and percussion – the short piece "Hypermnésie," (“Hyperthymesia”) which refers to the cross recollections that call out to contemporary memory.
In parallel, Jean-Pierre Armanet has recently completed an Oratorio recalling the victims of the earthquake of January 12, 2010, "Si Haïti mourait" ("If Haiti Died").
Here once again, the violence of the elements and the extreme poverty of the people have a strong impact on him. Alongside the traditional orchestra, to which the composer has added a small Haitian-inspired group and both adult and children's choirs, are the writings of Dany Laferrière , read by the actor Jean-Michel Martial. The concept of the project thus gives center stage to the cries of the suffering bodies, in the absence of a libretto.
With support from the city of Pecq.
With support from the city of La Celle-Saint-Cloud