Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY

successful composer & classical pianist in the 21st century

France / Portugal

His record ‚Tree of Light‘ reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Classical Album charts in 2022 after a continued 70 weeks in the top 10! He now has accumulated roundabout 700 million streams of his music on digital platforms and the clicks for his videos on YouTube are in the seven digit numbers too. The self-taught pianist composed the trailer music for Oscar winning films like ‚The Danish Girl‘, ‚The Shape of Water‘ and ‚Mr.Turner‘. His instrumentals are featured in advertising campaigns by Giorgio Armani, Bentley, Hulu, IKEA, Mercedes, Peugeot 508 (in France) or Samsung. Lana Del Rey, "one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 21st century" (Variety), used the melody of ‚Flo‘ from his superseller in her song ‚Grandfather...‘. When he performs on sold-out tours through prestigious worldwide venues this happens to public and critical rave responses. But prior to be considered as one of the most prominent figures of contemporary classical music, this Frenchman went through hell by facing physical and psychological abuse for almost two decades. He survived only because of his piano playing!

Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY

successful composer & classical pianist in the 21st century

France / Portugal

Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY has an unique style of playing the piano.
Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY has an unique style of playing the piano. | © Pierre-Emmanuel Rastoin, Warner Music Group

From the bottom to the top - this is the route that Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY has taken. Born in France in 1983 he grew up in a violent secular cult on the countryside in the westernly Département Deux-Sèvres. There he faced physical and psychological abuse. Despite the ‚guru‘ leader didn’t allow music and television in his community, little Jean-Philippe discovered an abandoned piano in his environmental habitat and used it in secret. „Every time I felt like I needed an escape I would play piano“, he told in an interview with his endorser Steinway. „It was the only thing that was nice to me, the thing that I could really go and talk to. It was like my therapy.“ Playing the piano and understanding it didn’t only save his life literally as „it was the only time where I didn’t suffer“, but gave him a purpose in life too. At the age around 14/15 Jean-Philippe played so many compositions of his own that he had developed in his head, that the instrument was taken away from him and sold. Being 17 year old he caught the attention of piano company Steinway & Sons and was chosen as a featured artist.

As soon as Jean-Philippe Rio-Py was of age he ran away from the cult, leaving his mother and four sibblings as well as the traumatic youth behind. His path led him from Paris to Los Angeles and to the UK finally. In Reading the twen began working in the music shop Hickies. A visitor heard his piano playing, was enthusiastic about it and helped him gaining a scholarship to study music at Oxford Brookes University. 2011 came and Monsieur Rio-Py who played in bars regularly was offered the chance to play at a Gala dinner organised by the British edition of Vanity Fair magazine. At this event in London Chris Martin of famous rockgroup Coldplay watched the Frenchman’s performance and applauded with a standing ovation. After a short chat between the star and the newcomer the first contacted the latter’s management and asked if he can be of help and anything is needed. „An instrument would be much appreciated“ was the immediate reply. Soon a Steinway Grand Piano made its way as a present... On that instrument RIOPY composed and recorded the songs for his self-titled debut (released in 2018). One year later the hugely successful ‚Tree of Light‘ followed. During the COVID-19 pandemic the eleven tracks for ‚Bliss‘ (2021) were written. 2023 saw the release of ‚Thrive‘. On this album RIOPY presents new songs as well as his interpretations of the ones that inspired him by famous classical music composers such as Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Fauré, Pachelbel and Satie. He has transformed their much-loved melodies into cinematic scores of his own, and composed lush arrangements for string orchestra. All that is audible proof that RIOPY is one of a kind and has a unique style of his own. „A lot of people don’t consider me a pianist, because I do not play Liszt, Rachmaninoff, or Tchaikovsky“ ( But he never wanted to play classical music anway, „because it might affect the way I compose“.

Furthermore the artist that has a keen interest in meditation and ways to improve mental health after going through deep anxiety and depression by himself, tuned his instrument to the (so it’s claimed) brainwaves-relaxing 432 Hertz and composed the 22-minutes meditational helpful track ‚MED66‘.

Even this musician didn’t start playing his favorite instrument out of passion but necessity he mentioned an important advice on „I say to everybody all the time: do what you love or you won’t do it!“

Jean-Philippe Rio-Py aka RIOPY, who considers himself „a classical pianist in the 21st century“ (, is in high demand as an international touring act. He is married and a father living in Portugal.

Interview December 2023

Pure piano power: survival tool for one becomes relaxation aid for millions


?: How does intuition present itself to you – in form of a suspicious impression, a spontaneous visualisation or whatever - maybe in dreams?

I have a specific modus operandi when it comes to creating. I need to get into the flow zone, or the point of consciousness…. It is something I believe anyone can develop using the right methods, and each of us are different. I found my own way. I am a dreamer. I’ve always been daydreaming and making my own soundtrack daydreaming…it was an escape, a need. Just by sitting on the piano, playing notes, it’s like opening a door and never knowing what’s behind it, it’s an amazing feeling, still is to this day. I feel like an explorer of sounds.  I also hear music in dreams, full orchestras, piano, something only sounds, then I wake up with that full song and I go on my piano… It can be frustrating as sometimes my body is tired and I would be lazy getting off bed resulting in forgetting the I try and always do something about it when it comes. I love practising, rehearsing while meditating, it’s super efficient and very useful when I’m on the road and don’t have access to a piano, then some new melodies will come, in my own little world. I feel safe.

?: Will any ideas be written down immediately and archived?

As much as I can, yes…but there is too much and not enough time, so I lose a lot of stuff and now I just let go…

?: How do you come up with good or extraordinary ideas?

I’m looking for the truth, the trust of it all, the graal, like if deep inside me I know there is this extraordinary piece that will make me feel something unimaginable, something I have never felt before…and I’m still looking…

?: Do you feel that new creative ideas come as a whole or do you get like a little seed of inspiration that evolves into something else and has to be realized by endless trials and errors in form of constant developments until the final result?

I would say both. Sometimes a piece can be complete from the start and when it happens, it usually has this idea of fluidity to it even more precise and accurate…other times, there is a beginning, like a sketch, then later another part comes in, it’s like finding the right pieces of a puzzle to see the full picture.

?: What if there is a deadline, but no intuition? Does the first fuel the latter maybe?

I touch wood, it has not happened yet. My experience is my truth, and my experience has been full of different emotions, feelings, from anger to loneliness, though feelings of injustice, loss, fear, etc. I have enough experience for at least two or three human life times ha. Everything inspires me, and I maintain a lifestlye that enables this to stay this way.


?: What inspires you and how do you stimulate this special form of imaginativeness?

Everything can be a source of inspiration, from a conversation to a beautiful landscape, life experience is an inspiration, but it has to be in link with the connection to the self, and to some extent to the collective consciousness around me.

?: How do you filter between ideas that are worthwhile pursuing and bad ones that you just let go of?

They don’t stick. Well, that’s how I analyze it. If they make me feel something to the core, then I want to play them again, I want to heart them, if not, they just go away as fast they came.

?: Does an idea need to appeal to you primarily or is its commercial potential an essential factor?

Good question. NEVER. And it’s in my contract, I do whatever I want, which is and should be the key to any artist…I cannot do anything I do not feel, not just in music, but in everything in general.

?: Do you revisit old ideas or check what colleagues or competitors are up to at times?

Haha. I do not even have Spotify, I do not listen to music because I do not want to get influenced or else and as I make music all the time, I need silence when I’m not making music… (and to be honest, there is still music played everywhere you go, including coffee place, train station, airplanes, etc)…


?: What time or environment best suits your creative work process — for example, a time and place of tranquility or of pressure? Which path do you take from theory or idea to creation?

I actually have my own seasons…theory, idea and creation are one and the same, everything is just under one big field, a frequency field, it has to be. I love being in darkness to play and create, though…but it doesnt have to. I avoid any kind of rituals, I always try and be as free as possible, no limitations.

?: What’s better in the realization process — for example, speed and forcing creativity by grasping the magic of the moment or a slow, ripening process for implementation and elaboration?

Hmm, get myself into the zone. We all use the two hemisphere of the brain and we know the right side is associated with creativity and the left side the intellect, roughly.  To create I believe it needs to come from that place of peace, down to the theta mode, to access that part of us.

?: How important are self-doubt and criticism by others during such a process process i.e. is it better to be creative on your own, only trust your own instincts, or to work in a team?

Tricky. Creating music is like telling a story, it is very personal and of course you hope it pleases everyone, but it never does. So, I try and keep all I do for myself, until I’m fully sure it is a beautiful and powerful as it can be…then I will play, again and again, and if it makes me feel something months later, then I am ready to share it to the world…I do not really listen to anyone, not in an arrogant way, but If I start asking, i’m sure everybody will have something to say, then the self doubt will come in and we don’t want needs to come from the heart.

?: Is it better to be creative on your own, to trust only your own instincts, or to work in a team?

Well, it is a tricky one as I create by myself, I go into a magical place, I cannot have anyone around, I go into a trance where time does not exist, and it’s the best place to be in (for me). I love it, it makes me feel so alive…

?: Should a creative person always stay true to him- or herself, including taking risks and going against the flow, or must the person, for reasons of commercial survival, make concessions to the demands of the market, the wishes of clients and the audience’s expectations?

Haha…I know people who only go for the marketing.


?: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.“ Do you agree with Winston Churchill’s quote?

I think Churchill was a horrible man.

?: Should or can you resist the temptation to recycle a ‘formula’ you're successful with?

I’m not looking for success and fame, I’m looking for the truth. To find wonders in sound, I want to  feel something deeper.

?: Is it desirable to create an ultimate or timeless work? Doesn’t “top of the ladder” bring up the question, “What’s next?” — that is, isn’t such a personal peak “the end”?

Yes, it does..but If I start thinking like this, then I would be bring my intellect in the mix, and that is not good. So, when I was told I was no. 1, then I told my team and everybody around me “ I don’t want to know” – I do not look at the numbers, I don’t read my interviews, I don’t watch the shows I am on,  and I don’t go and look at people say about or music or else..I keep away from all of this, it’s not good  for me. I want to keep my music as pure and authentic as possible.

I follow my intuition, my love for music and let us see where it takes me…I hope that I will be able to create something insanely beautiful, that’s all I want.


It’s like asking me writing about my favorite kid, cannot do this. It’s hard, they all are a part of me, different parts, but all a good (but not exhaustive) representation of what I am, multipersonalites for sure..numbers, rhythm, harmonies, and I am not even sure my work to date represent fully who I am or if my creations represent my work so far…ask me again in couple of years.

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