Daniel Kientzy was born in Périgueux 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 periods.Various circumstancesled 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 training in contemporary 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 scene.

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) and mixed 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 music.

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 musical 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.

Reina Portuondo