Jean-Yves was born in Lyon, to musically literate parents - a French father who played the violin and a German mother who gave him his first piano lessons. He was first attracted to the piano at age 3; learned to play it at age 5 (later learned the violin and even dreamed of conducting); made his first public appearance at age 7; first performed with an orchestra at age 9, playing Ravel's Concerto in G - his prize for winning a competition called the Kingdom of Music.
At age 12, he graduated with the gold medal from the conservatory in Lyon. Then continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire, with Lucille Descaves - a student of Fauré and Ravel. He later studied with Reine Gianoli, a student of Artur Schnabel; and lastly with Aldo Ciccolini, perhaps the one who influenced him most.
He was 15 when he won the premier Prix du Conservatoire, soon followed by top prizes at the Viotti International Competition (Italy), the Robert Casadesus International Competition ( Cleveland, Ohio) and the Busoni International Competition (Italy);
In 1980, he won the highest prize at the International Piano Competition in Japan; in 1981, he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York and soon after began a series of sensational debuts in the US, Europe, and the Far East.
Today this former child prodigy is a young man in the prime of his career, with more than 30 recordings to his name (and more in the works) and hundreds of highly acclaimed concert appearances. His newest release, a 5-CD box set entitled Satie: The Complete Solo Piano Music was awarded the 2003 Choi de la Musique.
His first collaborative recording with soprano Renée Fleming won the best Lieder Recital Award at Germany'w 2002 Echo Classical Music Awards. A Grammy-nominated recording artist for Decca, his other awards include: the Schallplatten Preis, the Diapason d'Or, the Gramophone Award, and the Edison Prize.
For his artistic achievements, the Republic of France awarded Jean-Yves the prestigious Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 2001; and in 2003 he received the Premio Pegaso from the Spoleto Festival with which he has had a longstanding involvement.
Jean-Yves is open about being gay. In demand around the globe, he has commanded fame and success on his own terms. He tours nine months of the year, and his lover, Paul, who works as an international marketing consultant, often travels with him.
"Very often I have invitations to go to dinner parties with heads of state or royalty or ambassadors or whomever, and I'll always say I have a companion with me and I'd like him to be invited. And though I don't say it, what that basically means is, if he's not invited, I won't come."
They maintain homes in Los Angeles and Paris, take prolonged holidays in exotic locations and share a love for music, speedboats and fast cars.
"Music has been a very important part of our relationship. When I play and he's in the audience, there are certain things that I know he feels. It's not the same for me when he's not there," Jean-Yves says.