Daniel Kientzy was born in
in 1951. A professional musician before the age of
16, he played the bass guitar in dance and pop bands.
Later, by chance, and almost beyond the age limit, he
came into contact with classical music, entering the saxophone
class of the Limoges Conservatory thanks to M.
Decouais who admitted him in the middle of the academic
year. While attending the Paris Conservatory, he studied
the double bass at the Versailles Conservatory. A year
or two later he was playing this instrument with a provincial
opera company. He also studied early music and period
instruments: the viola da gamba, the crumhorns, the cornamusen,
recorders, forming the ensemble Musica Ficta, the repertory
of which covered the medieval, renaissance and baroque
him to study acoustics, electro-acoustics, recording techniques
and signal processing. This also led him to take a doctoral
degree in aesthetics, sciences and art technology. His
music took place with the composers themselves
When the necessity arose,
in 1979/80, of devoting himself entirely to contemporary
music, he chose the saxophone(s) as
sole instrument(s). His identification with the avant-garde
and the absence of a repertory very soon led him to become
the ‘inventor’ of the modern saxophone.
He undertook unprecedented
research into the seven members of the saxophone family.
Thanks to impeccable logic, a rare eye for detail and
remarkable intuition, he succeeded in establishing a fundamental
renewal of the potential of these aerophones, one that
concerns both tone-colour and expression.
The fruits of his research are to be found in several
works, most notably the monumental and revolutionary Saxologie,
unique in the history of music.
In parallel, he commenced
an extraordinary artistic collaboration with dozens upon
dozens of composers from extremely diverse geographical
and aesthetic horizons, which has led to the production
of more than 650
works which are, for him, so many worlds that he inhabits
quite separately one from another and to which he devotes
himself, infusing them with life in the course of an essentially
international career entirely devoted to contemporary
activity. At the same time, his instrumental eloquence
established the saxophone(s) as an
undisputed solo instrument in the contemporary music
A profoundly independent artist, he has, however, never
wanted to create a school, though one can inevitably refer
to the saxophone ‘before Kientzy’ and ‘since
Kientzy’. Moreover, though he does not teach, his
treatises form an unprecedented pedagogical contribution
of value to both composers and performers.
In masterly manner he has
broadened the scope of performance by including electro-acoustic
techniques, as concerns both recording (which in most
cases he controls directly in accordance with the specificities
of the medium)
media performance for which, together with Reina Portuondo,
he created Enneaphony,
a tool for meta-chamber music. In this respect, physical
and/or artificial spatialisation are added to natural
performance features. This alchemy of course incorporates
all possible tone-colourings, sound transformations, temporal
shifts and other sound changes by these electro-acoustic
means considered from an instrumental point of view as
a prolongation of instrumental performance in the service
of his artistic conception and musical
approach . The musical treatment of these features
gives rise to what may be termed an
organo-intrumental interpretative Art. .
As his object is to be
the expressive medium between the composer, or more
precisely the composition, and the audience, his expressive
powers quickly developed a veritable contemporary
lyricism. He brings to bear on this all the transcendental
means possible for breathing life into this “art
in time that reaches beyond time”, for such is
the way he considers and lives music.
Contemporary music is absolutely natural for him, and
what, on paper, may appear to be an experiment, whether
simple or complex, or indeed a purely intellectual construction,
is absorbed by him as a pure work of art.
Making use of his
vast experience as a performer, and with both exceptional
aesthetic demands and a fundamental sense of musical
art, he is also a remarkable performer of improvised
It should be stressed that
he is the only performer in the world to play all seven
saxophones, which he masters with unlarged
and unprecedented virtuosity. Between these instruments,
and together with the new paths he has opened up for
them, he juggles with the most complex techniques for
intense, deep, sensual, spontaneous musical expression.
Yet his celebrated stage presence
has no other justification than the intensity of his
commitment to the works he performs and his "shamanic"
conception of a concert.
Far from being self-taught, his art nonetheless owes
nothing to imitation. He draws solely on the intrinsic
possibilities of his instruments and on his broadened
artistic perception of all that genuinely constitutes
music, guided by a certain idea stemming from it of
a ‘primal music’, the experience of which
is renewed and deepened every day.
Through his own
phonographic productions, which he considers a separate
and fully-fledged form of interpretation, he fully embodies
the updated concept of ‘total performer’.
He is an artiste of authenticity, and with his research,
his treatises, his unprecedented knowledge of the whole
family of saxophones, his unusual tone-colours, his
charisma, his phenomenal technique, his extraordinary
potential, his record-breaking number of world
premieres, his instrumental mastery of electro-acoustics,
his introduction of spatial concepts into (meta-) instrumental
performance, his creation of an organo-acoustic
interpretative art, his art of improvised musical
creation, his musical rigour in the most complex works,
he is also, though already an accomplished artiste of
the twentieth century, the prototype of the performer
one could dream of for the twenty-first century.