Thomas Bloch

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Thomas Bloch


• Born 1962


Keyboard artist Thomas Bloch is best known as a specialist in the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument, and other instruments rare in the classical concert hall, including the Hammond organ, the Cristal Baschet, and the glass harmonica invented by Benjamin Franklin. Also a noted composer, Bloch has performed more than 2,500 concerts and has collaborated with artists in the fields of classical music, jazz, rock, film, and theater music.

Bloch was born in Colmar, in eastern France, in 1962. He attended the Paris Conservatory, studying the ondes Martenot with Jeanne Loriod, one of the instrument's most important early players, graduating with a first prize. Bloch returned to his home region for a master's degree in musicology at the University of Strasbourg, studying with Marc Honegger. In addition to the ondes Martenot, Bloch became interested in other unusual instruments and was soon noted as an expert player of the glass harmonica, whose development at the hands of glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner he keenly followed. Bloch also often played the Hammond organ, and the Cristal Baschet (or crystal organ), a set of tuned metal and glass rods rubbed with the fingers. Beginning in the 1980s, Bloch has been in heavy demand as a collaborator, performing with artists as varied as rock band Radiohead, classical experimentalist John Cage, and rock singer-songwriter Tom Waits. In 1984, he played Erik Satie's 24-hour-long piano work Vexations at a single sitting. He plays all of the roughly 100 classical pieces written for the ondes Martenot. Bloch is a member of a number of ensembles, including Le Quatour d'Ondes Martenot de Paris, the Bloch-Wilson Piano Duo, and the Brussels Virtuosi. He has composed various works, using as many as six pseudonyms, including the score for the film The Tango Lesson.

Bloch has appeared on more than 80 albums in various genres. He has released several solo albums, including Music for Glass Harmonica (2001) and Ondes Martenot (2004) on the Naxos label. In 2020, he was heard on the Nationaltheater-Orchester Mannheim's recording of Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie. He is a professor of ondes Martenot at the Strasbourg Conservatory.