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Something You Didn't Know About Emmanuel Macron: He's A Pianist

Incoming French president Emmanuel Macron, photographed in Berlin in January 2017.
Sean Gallup
Getty Images
Incoming French president Emmanuel Macron, photographed in Berlin in January 2017.

There's a musical asterisk on French president-elect Emmanuel Macron's bio: He is an avid amateur pianist. It's a facet of his life occasionally noted in passing, as in this piece from the French radio network Europe 1 titled "The Things You Don't Yet Know About Emmanuel Macron." Along with mentioning his abiding fondness for karaoke, Europe 1 reported that he studied piano for 10 years at the music conservatory in Amiens, where he won third prize.

In an interview last month with, Macron said that he'd like to play again "as soon as I have time," and said that he has a particular love for the music of Robert Schumann ("it has images and feelings that I can't find anywhere else") and Liszt ("this major European, resolute modern, anchored in the great tradition — the incandescence of his Années de pèlerinage remains intact after so many years").

When he ascended to the post of economy minister in 2014, the French newspaper Le Monde claimed he had already been nicknamed the "Mozart of the Elysée," a sobriquet repeated by other European news outlets, including Germany'sDie Welt last year. According to his biographer, the journalist Anne Fulda, his wife told a friend that while she was his teacher, she felt like she was "working with Mozart."

That's not the only claim to high arts culture that France's new, 39-year-old leader can make. Two years ago, during an appearance on the TV channel Canal+, host Cyrille Eldin challenged the then-minister to recite the beginning of Molière's 17th-century play Le misanthrope (The Misanthrope) — which Macron dispatched with ease from memory.

The last time the White House had a pianist as president was when Richard Nixon was in office.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.