Tiari Kese

“Born in Vratsa, Bulgaria, in 1948, Tiari Kese is descended from solid stock. His father, Kaspard Tarminovitch Kese, the last Bulgarian Hussar, was a national hero of both World Wars, while his mother, Léonida Théchelek, was a world-famous mezzo soprano who sang at La Scala and Bayreuth.

Having been accepted at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris, Kese moved to France in 1965, aged only 17. A musical prodigy, he was eventually awarded First Prize in both piano and French horn, which prompted Karlheinz Stockhausen to take the young Kese under his wing. The Bulgarian accepted on the condition that Stockhausen would compose a new set of Klavierstücke expressly for him.

In May 1968 Kese met Guy Debord and became involved in the activities of the Situationist International. A few days later, during the street riots he would be savagely beaten by the French police. Brought to a hospital, Kese would suffer from severe aphasia and was obliged to terminate his working relationship with Stockhausen, but not before accepting to impersonate the German composer on Peter Blake’s celebrated cover for The BeatlesSgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (he’s the fifth from the left, in the last row).

After a stint as pianist at the Folies Bergères, Kese went on to become France’s interpreter par excellence of John Cage. The composer, impressed by Kese’s elegiac and subtle piano playing, dedicated to him the compositions Cheap Imitation, Kese Cake, and As Many Birds. Tiari Kese is also known to be a reputed interpreter of Erik Satie’s repertoire.

An accomplished pianist (he plays organ as well, and French horn on occasion), Kese’s compositional œuvre remains to these days largely unknown: his recording sessions with both Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jay-Jay Johanson never saw the light of the day and it’s only recently, after meeting Canadian composer and musician Michel F Côté, that his music has started to be recorded and released. After collaborating with Côté on his 63 apparitions and Mecha Fixes ClocksÀ l’inattendu les dieux livrent passage (which Kese produced as well), Ave <w> is the first album of Tiari Kese’s compositions to be released. Kese is currently working on a new set of compositions along with Côté, Botul, scheduled to be released by &records in 2012.”

Michel F Côté [i-11]

On the web

Tiari Kese

  • Composer
  • Performer (piano, organ, horn)