Yann Tiersen came to prominence in 2001, as the composer of the soundtrack for Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, a film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He has also written the score for other films such as Goodbye Lenin and La Vie rêve des Anges.
Tiersen was born in Brest on the 23 of June 1970. He spent his childhood and formative years in the city of Rennes, where he proved that while he fell behind academically, his prowess at music more than made up for his regular studies. He learned violin and piano at his local Conservatoire, later training also as a conductor.
Though his early musical education was predominantly in the classical idiom, his teenage years brought him an appreciation of contemporary music, including that of Joy Division among others. While he had now been moving around from Conservatoire to conservatoire ( Rennes, Nantes, Boulogne and others), the cap of his early musical journey was to be playing post-punk music in a number of rock bands.
He began to compose music, writing incidental music for short films and plays. Before long he had enough material composed for his first album, "la Valse des Monstres", which was released in 1995, followed a year later by a second album Rue des Cascades. While both albums gave a clear insight into his brave fusion of classically influenced themes and modern electronica, they failed to pique the interest of the critics, and sales were relatively low.
For the next two years Tiersen toured as a solo act, playing festivals and prominant venues. His talent for instruments and combining their sounds together contributed to his growing popularity - combining folk-influenced tunes with Waltzes and operatic themes and chansons. He moved easily from accordian to piano to violin, and on to more unusual instruments, sometimes employing two at once.
In 1998 he released his third album "le Phare", which was written and partly recorded on retreat on Ile d'Ouessant, an island off his native Brittany. The album made a huge impact on French music fans. On the strength of this popularity his label re-released his older albums, creating a freely available ouvre which attracted the attention of directors such as André Téchiné and Eric Zonca, who wanted Tiersen's particular musical style to enhance their productions, "Alice et Martin" and "la Vie rêvée des Anges" respectively. The latter went on to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival.
In the following years he played at many of the more prominant venues in France and abroad, such as le Café de la Danse and le Bataclan in Paris, as well as the Transmusicales festival in Rennes, and also venues in Barcelona, Singapore and Japan. He was one of the contributors to the "Black Sessions" album along with Francoiz Breut, Dominique A (who had also contributed to "le Phare", and Neil Hannon among others.
Tiersen returned to the studio again in 1999, releasing his fourth album "Tout est Calme", which featured musical contributions from the band The Married Monk, who were guests on the "Black Sessions" album. The tone of the album was more rock oriented than had previously been heard from Tiersen, and was well received by the public and critics alike.
In 2001 Tiersen had two releases to his name, firstly his most ambitious studio album yet, "l'Absente", an album which embraced a recurring theme of Tiersen's work, namely that of absence. This theme is set off beautifully by the fact that for the album he shared his studio with a number of his peers and admirers, such as Dominique A, Neil Hannon, Lisa Germano, Sacha Toorop, les Têtes Raides, as well as Christian Quermalet of The Married Monk and Marc Sens who works with Serge Tessot-Gay, both of whom now tour with Yann Tiersen. the actress Natacha Regnier, Tiersen's partner, provides additional vocals with Tiersen himself.
His second work of this year was the score for "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain", Jeunet's film featuring Audrey Tautou, which achieved critical aclaim and widespread popularity all over the world. This popularity spread to the sales of the associated soundtrack album, reaching 200,000 in the first few weeks of the film's release. This elevated profile also had an effect on Tiersen's studio works, exposing "l'Absente" to a much wider audience leading to a sale of over 100,000 copies.
Tiersen currently tours across Europe and beyond with Christian and Marco, and has been playing venues as varied as the Albert Hall in London, the Cité de la Musique in Paris and Cuba in Galway. He has somehow found the time to release a double CD live album entitled "C’était Ici", and also to provide the score for a numbers including one feature - Goodbye Lenin by Wolfgang Becker, and two short films - Primitifs by Vanessa Filho and Le Poteau rose by Michel Leclerc.
Through his continual experimentation in musical instruments, forms and techniques, while remaining grounded in the necessity for emotional colour in music, Tiersen has developed into a modern icon for French music.
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