Interview conducted by Virginia Tamayo & Jorge Munnshe

Jose Bonet is a pianist and composer with a solid artistic talent, which can be appreciated both in his live performances and in his soundtracks. The author of over forty piano works, he has known how to develop his own style, between New Instrumental Music and the most romantic side of Classical Music, which places him as a true heir of the trends of composers headed by such people as Max Steiner, Alfred Newman or Victor Young, who tended a bridge between melodic Classicism and Cinema, building the language of symphonic soundtracks. The Classical background that Bonet has (he studied music notation and piano at the Conservatory of Valencia) gets united to his special talent to create well defined melodies with an unusual sensitivity, a talent that has been very useful to him when composing soundtracks for TV and for infomercials. Bonet has performed his music before prominent audiences and events, as for instance, the Cycle Mare Nostrum (2000), the City of the Arts and Sciences (2004) or the Palau de la Musica of Valencia (1999 and 2001), among others.

We begin the interview asking him about how his relationship with music started. "I can't recall a given moment, yet I have this feeling of having been moved since my early childhood with any musical instrument, and especially with everything ressembling a piano keyboard. After having played all sorts of musical instruments for children, I got a "melodic", a wind instrument with small buttons that simulated a piano keyboard. Due to my poor health I had to invent some sort of homemade organ which was my great passion. I sheathed an old fan from my grandfather's shop into a plastic bag, tying the other end of the "melodic", in such a way that I set it in a horizontal position and simulated my great harmonium. The fan was so noisy in fact that I could hardly hear the music I so much desired to hear. I used to give small compositions to my family, but I never got a great deal of enthusiasm for them. My passion to listen to the harmoniums made me discover all the churches that officiated with their organs, as well as Bach, a world of sounds that drove me in an uncontrolled way towards music."

With respect to the musical influences from other composers that somehow may have marked a path for his style, he comments: "I have never believed in myths, nor in the great masters, and I think that the music one feels a greater passion for is far from, I don't know why, what one makes or expresses. This contradiction has a double sense, you don't do what you think you should do, which has a certain degree of frustration, yet, on the other hand, you do feel the  tight relationship between what you say and what you are, although on occasion what results from all that doesn't quite please you."

The labels linked to given musical trends are not importamt for him when it comes to making music. "I have often wondered which kind of music I like doing, and truly, as I once before already said, I think I don't really know, so I always answer that I create a music of my own times, which is the same as saying I can't do a different kind, and I admit that, throughout the years I am feeling more and more identified with it. I may have felt the need to play with the classical patterns and try to break them, yet I have always had a clear premise. I must do a kind of music that is simple, and as beautiful as possible, following the maxim "Most beauty, in a minimum of notes".

As he tells us, the process he usually follows in order to compose is not very different, on the intellectual side, from the one typical for many writers. "I really believe that with music happens the same as writers say of literature. You must sit on the stool every day, whether or not you feel like it, and look at the keyboard, start working and let emotions, discipline, inspiration flow, and all these things together end up with music. You may sometimes look for inspiration, whereas at other times you may just find it without looking for it, yet you must live with the piano so that the music never abandons you".

He has a rule he has always followed ever since he was a child for composing: "I never write an idea or a musical fragment just in the very moment it comes to my head. My filter to determine what may turn out to be interesting or not (for me) is the fact that I remember it during several days. I shape it, I work on it, and then I okay it and write it. I may have an excessive confidence in my memory, maybe as the years go by I will have to change my technique".

Inspiration, or whatever motivates him to create, comes to him in several ways. "I have composed from different viewpoints, yet where I feel really comfortable is when I pursue emotions among the piano keyboards. At other times I like painting a landscape with music, or a castle, a city, and above all, I love giving expression to memories".

"Entre ayer y hoy" ("Between yesterday and today") is an album where Bonet has given expression to his most personal ideas. The release of this CD was accompanied by a ceremony of presentation of the CD at the prestigious Palau de la Musica of Valencia, an event that included the performance of the artist. Throughout 13 pieces, performed only with a piano, Bonet shapes an  exquisite collection of melodies, rich in romanticism, with a wide emotional range going from melancholy to festive airs. Although he is nourished with Classicist elements, the composer provides his tracks with an agile development, free from constraints, which relates to the public at once.

We ask him about the stage that his album "Entre ayer y hoy" covers in his life. He didn't compose it in a given time, but it rather gathers pieces created in different occasions. "This album covers many years and different stages, yet there wasn't a pre-detemined criterion to choose the tracks. It was practically a live recording due to the scarce time the Auditorium had, and though I did select the program thinking of the recording, I was more driven by the music I had recently composed rather than other older themes, and which, in my opinion, today, complete my style much more. Well, I think that right back then, as one of the titles of my themes says, I believed that was the most suitable choice way then."

He tells us that the track "Entre ayer y hoy", the one giving its name to the album, was very important for him. "Its creation refers to a really important event, and I promised to name my first CD with that song. This is the reason why it is called like this, as a kind of dedication".

He admits that all the titles have a great identification with the music they represent. "There is always a deep connection between the music and the name of the theme".

He is aware that the music reflects the personality of the one who creates, somehow or other, aside from the fact that the composer tries to use the music as a way to make sound stories. "I think that one is defined by what one does, by what one feels, by what one expresses. In the field of literature it is said that occasionally it is more important the way how one idea is expressed rather than the very meaning it has, though this is not always true. All musicians have the same notes within our reach, the difference lies in the way we relate them and how. I believe that no one can help leaving their own trail even in the most impersonal of musical stories".

We ask him whether, besides the kind of music he has shaped in "Entre ayer y hoy", he composes or has composed music of different orientations. "I obviously am my worst critic, as everyone is, yet I do think that,  within the evolution I have experienced throughout the years, I have always kept this trace which I find impossible to hide."

Jose Bonet has a very special relationship with the piano. We ask him whether he considers it to be the best suited instrument to his way of feeling music. "I don't know why, but ever since I was a very young child, blood flowed through my veins in a very different way whenever I saw a piano. Even long before I started studying, I used to sit on the knees of an adult and managed to make small improvisations. This is something that gets settled, difficult to define. Today, after so many years, the respect, the admiration and the love one can get to have for this so very complex piece of furniture with a soul, turns out to be enthralling. You treat it very gently, at times with strength and always waiting for its answer, as if the music emanating from it had nothing to do with you. It is true that, and I vouch for it, especially in concerts, a dialogue is set between the piano and me, at times with all the love, and other times, with anger."

When we inquire whether he has any preferences towards any given pianos, he answers: "Since several years ago, I felt captivated by the sweetness of Schimmel pianos. Whenever the concert hall permits so, I perform with one of them, although in general, in the concerts, the grand piano is necessary."

About what his opinion is with respect to the electronic keyboards as compared to the acoustic pianos, he comments: "I had abandoned the idea of a synthesizer and sequencers many years ago. Electronic music has the grandeur of being able to simulate an orchestra, you may ask it for the necessary strength or rhythm. Yet I have always thought that I felt more comfortable with acoustic music, that the piano transmits your state of mind, your strength or weakness, that you can make it speak with your own voice, although, on the other hand, it happens to be much more complex. And of course, it is a tandem of loneliness, the piano and you. There is nothing else, It tells what you tell it." ***

Describing what he feels with respect to live performances is somewhat difficult for him, as he admits. "The live concerts are the most difficult thing to be able to define.I personally continue to ignore what I can say about them. The loneliness onstage is quite difficult for me, yet it has a special magic. Alone, the piano and you. There are two opposed poles, fear acts, so does pleasure, connecting with the audience, you feel this as you perform. Dialogues with yourself while you think of the next fragment,well, the end always rewards you. I must admit that the value of live performances is inimitable".

Particularly, assessing the reach of music onstage looks difficult. "I have an anecdote which defines how contradictory live performances are. I always ask my people, when I finish a concert, how it has been, as you never control the feeling with the audience, you get an impression, and nevertheless you hear the opposite; in concerts where technically you feel very upset in the end, they tell you that the technique was impressive; in others, on the contrary, where you were performing feeling more at ease, maybe committing next to no mistakes at all, you feel the audience keeping more distant. Concerts are certainly unpredictable, yet they are certainly magical".

As opposed to concerts, the music played track by track in a studio, it is a very different experience. "Recording is another thing entirely, it has more perfectionist connotations, it is colder, everything is thought of, calculated and executed".

And finally, when we ask him if he wants to add something else, he says goodbye with these comments, not lacking in a touch of humor: "I enjoy talking about music, and especially the piano, so much, that I would have extended my speech till it might look like a book against insomnia. Music has always been and continues to be something very important in my life, composing is something fantastic because of the mere fact that you have your own words with music, performing is entering a nebula of sounds that make you very happy indeed ".

More info here:

If you wish to purchase "Entre ayer y hoy" ("Between yesterday and today") you only have to use this link:

Previous Page (Articles/News)