Thierry Barbé is principal bass at the Opéra National de Paris Orchestra, double bass professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, and also at the Conservatoire National Régional de Saint Maur.

Born in Metz in the Lorraine region of Eastern France, Thierry studied piano and double bass while simultaneously pursuing a degree in science before devoting himself exclusively to music at the CNSMDP. Here he studied music theory and analysis (Casterede), music history (François-Sappey), harmony (Raynaud), counterpoint (Henry), electroacoustic music (Zbar), conducting (Dervaux), and of course double bass (Rollez).

Thierry’s approach to teaching is based on a solid understanding of harmony as a composer, which places value on a natural phrasing. This approach allows bass players to open their minds and break bad habits that have crept into the double bass repertoire.

With the Opéra National, Thierry has played with many respected conductors and for10 years shared a stand with François Rabbath, who later became his teacher, giving him a free, open-minded attitude. At the Capbreton Academy Thierry met Thomas Martin, who became a true mentor and shared passions for Bottesini and pedagogy. It was partly due to this meeting that in 1999, Thierry succeeded Pierre Hellouin as president of the Association des Bassistes et Contrebassistes de France (ABCDF), working with a great team including the eminent Claudine Petiot. Thierry was part of the organising committee of the Paris Bass 2008 convention alongside ISB president Hans Sturm. He also served as a board member for the International Society of Bassists.

From 2000 to 2008, each year, ABCDF organised bass competitions for all ages categories, which encouraged the development of our young bass virtuosos.

Thierry has played recitals around the world, and his playing has been described as having a ‘sensitive and expressive “French touch”’. He has given masterclasses in Italy, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, the New York Juilliard School, Germany, Austria, Norway, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Czechia, Slovakia and France. He appreciates all styles of music, from Bach to Xenakis, world music, and jazz, and frequently performs his own compositions (his first album, Nomade, was released in 1998). Thierry enjoys making transcriptions of works for other instruments, such as the Debussy Cello Sonata (released in 2016 on the DVD-CD French Impressions), and performing new and rediscovered solo double bass compositions, such as Richard Dubugnon’s concerto and double bass sonata, and Henry Tomasi’s concerto.

Thierry regularly experiments with a variety of double bass techniques, with an aim to reconcile different schools of playing. He plays both French and German bow, and uses different fingering styles, guided by expression only. His teaching style takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and is highly tailored.

Alongside Marin Béa, Thierry is artistic director of the Biarritz International Bass Academy, a bass summer camp which has taken place every August for six years.

Double Bass