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Interview with Pianist, Composer and Music Therapist Jozef De Schutter

Can we get to know you?

I’m Jozef De Schutter, a pianist, composer and music therapist originally hailing from Antwerp, Belgium, but currently based in Switzerland for almost 30 years.

What is the story of how you became familiar with your instrument?

My journey with the piano began in the living room of my parents’ house. As a child, I would occasionally play around with the black keys, drawn to their unique tones, even though I didn’t realise they formed a pentatonic scale. I loved to improvise. I learned how to play a chord, and a simple melody emerged when I was around 9 years old. At the age of 11, I started formal piano lessons.

One of the first pieces I wanted to learn was Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies. It was a true musical revelation for me, and I was curious to learn all about the person behind the composer. Solfège bored me quite a bit, and I struggled with it. So, I’d painstakingly decipher the sheet music and then play it from memory. I continued studying piano in Antwerp until I was 19, always drawn to improvisation. Even during my piano lessons, I’d often be inspired by a melody or chord and dive into improvisation.

At 20, I moved to Switzerland to work with children with disabilities. I became a teacher and music therapist. In 2021, I felt the urge to share my music beyond the confines of the music therapy room, and I independently released three singles on various platforms. Starting with the first single, ‘Adagio,’ Spotify’s editorial team placed my music in prominent classical playlists. Subsequently, I was approached by several record labels, and I released music with labels like 1631 Recordings (Sweden) and Moderna Records from Montreal, Quebec.

How would you describe your music?

My musical style is primarily instrumental, centred around solo piano with a touch of delicacy and subtlety. I often play with the “mute,” creating a gentle and soothing atmosphere. My music lends itself well as background music, leaving space for other activities. It often carries a certain “melancholy” that reflects my somewhat melancholic nature and a preference for minor keys.

For many years, I didn’t know the name of my musical style. It was only when I started recording and releasing my music that I discovered it was often categorised as “neoclassical” or “modern classical.” However, I never intentionally sought to adopt this style; it naturally evolved through my musical expression.

Do you know Turkey? Are there any music artists from our country that you follow?

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Turkey twice, and I have fond memories of those trips. My first visit to Turkey was when I was still a child, and I learned to count up to 19. I still remember a few words like “merhaba,” “teşekkür ederim,” and “lütfen.” I did accompany a student on my accordion as she sang a beautiful song, “Üsküdar.” 

I listen to Ali Toygar, a great pianist and composer from Turkey.

Can you tell us about any new projects you have in the works?

Since June, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a magnificent new Yamaha piano, and I’ve been exploring this instrument’s possibilities. Just two weeks ago, I began recording new pieces, dedicating ample time to crafting ambiance, colour, and chord progressions. I’m excited to share these with you. Additionally, there are two singles in production, with the first expected to be released this autumn via Moderna Records.





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