My dad came from a well-off family. He was born in 1939 and never knew his father, who died in May 1940 during the war. His mother raised him alone, and then she remarried and he lived with a stepfather who was pretty hard on him. My dad lived in a mansion in the 17th arrondissement of Paris after a period out of the city to escape wartime conditions. At 7, he was already an exceptional child, running around with screwdrivers and hammers and dismantling everything in the house. He was curious, a great dreamer and quite timid. He wanted to understand the world, and tried by all means possible to escape his home.
How did he discover music?
It was quite early. My grandmother enjoyed singing opera and her son wanted to become a conductor! One day he sat down at the family piano and played a Chopin waltz for his mother. He had taught himself, by listening to the piece. He had an innate talent, but the year of piano lessons he took at the age of 8 bored him, especially as he already played music constantly with his friends. Music was always present in his life, but the family’s tradition was in engineering. That’s why he studied public works. He was really interested in mathematical research and physical chemistry. I don’t think he saw himself taking a traditional job. I guess he worked for two months after receiving his degree, during which he laid the foundations of a bridge that was built afterward. He was very proud of it, but being in a normal job was difficult for him.
Was mathematics also a creative process for him?
Yes, exactly. It was, in addition, a pathway to the esoteric, to understand complicated concepts such as space-time, black holes, material and non-material, and to make them comprehensible in simple terms. But his scientific orientation was also why, at the age of 10, he managed to modify his mother’s tape recorder to listen to his 45s. He was really ingenious and remained so throughout his life.