Interview with Peter Bence

  • Acoustic piano
  • Piano events
  • Piano inspiration

Pianos Maene's mission is to share our passion for the piano with as many people as possible, and to inspire everyone to play the piano. Who embodies this mission like no other is YouTube phenomenon Peter Bence, a "friend at home" at Piano's Maene for many years now. We interviewed him during his visit to Belgium.

Peter Bence, Steinway Artist en Maene Friend
Meet and greet with Peter Bence

In 2015 Peter Bence already gave a performance in the Pianos Maene headquarters in Ruiselede. Ever since, contact between Peter and Maene has always been warm. In late 2022, after lockdown, he made a new world tour and besides Australia, Dubai, the US and numerous European countries, Belgium and the Netherlands couldn't be left out. In the Netherlands he was able to give it his all in the Carré, which was filled to the brim. In Belgium the Koningin Elisabethzaal in Antwerp was full of young and not quite as young piano amateurs. Pianos Maene provided the Steinway concert grands for both sold out venues and organized a meet-and-greet for guests. After the concert in Antwerp, we asked Peter some questions...

Peter Bence aan de vleugelpiano

What piano do you have?

At home, I have a Steinway Spirio | r. I do play all my concerts on a Steinway D model, as well as most of my recordings.

How did you start playing the piano?

It actually happened quite naturally, as a child, upon the inevitable discovery of my grandmother's upright piano.

What advice do you give to beginning pianists?

It is so important not to silence the little voice in our head. 99 per cent of our ideas may lead to failure, but we have to keep striving and work hard to turn that 1 per cent into something genius.

Acoustic or digital piano? Or both?

Both instruments are used in completely different ways and should not even be compared. You should actually ask yourself the question "what is my purpose with this piano?". If it's for a recording or live performance: without a doubt, an acoustic piano. If it's just for practising on, I think a digital piano is sufficient. Either way, I still have a slight preference for acoustic pianos, I like the physical sound of the vibrating strings.

What do you pay attention to when choosing a piano?

The sound is always the first criterion, besides that, of course, the keyboard and the action. I like a clear sound full of character, with a smooth and sensitive action. That's why over the years my choice of a Steinway D has become an obvious one. A perfectly balanced piano is like a white canvas, nothing stops you from painting the most beautiful colours.

Peter Bence in actie op een Steinway vleugelpiano (Piano's Maene)

Has the 2020-2021 lockdown also had a positive impact on your music?

I finally found the otherwise non-existent time to make new music and new videos, finish my album... I wouldn't have been able to do that if I was still on tour. We always have to stay optimistic and take what's positive out of difficult and chaotic periods. I do have to admit that I missed travelling, meeting people and being live on stage very much and am happy to have another world tour in 2022.

What was your most memorable piano moment?

Several concerts immediately come to mind where there was a special connection between myself, the piano and the audience. One was the last concert I gave before the lockdown started, at Sydney Opera House. Memorable, on the other hand, can also be funny or challenging, like when I broke 2 keys and a string during soundcheck for the BBC Proms In The park. We only had a few minutes to fix the problem. A setback, which fortunately happens only rarely.

What music do you like to listen to?

I listen to anything that has something good or interesting to offer. These days, my focus is mainly on orchestral music, classical or John Williams. I have periods where I listen to very varied music, from Sting to Michael Jackson, from Hans Zimmer to Stephen Sondheim. The list is too long to mention.

Peter Bence in Elisabethzaal Antwerpen

What should you absolutely never do with a piano?

Cutting onions or chopping parsley would probably damage the beautiful polished lacquer, I don't recommend this :) Pianos are very strong and solid, I find it interesting to investigate how to get other sounds out of the instrument besides just pressing the keys.

How do you prepare yourself for a performance?

When it comes to a series of concerts or a tour, I like to practise all the pieces in the programmed order, so that everything is well memorised. If you ask what I do when it's just one concert, it's often a 2-in-1 soundcheck with warm-up exercises.

Another tip for Pianos Maene readers ?

Listening to music is like eating. If we eat too many snacks, we are no longer hungry and in the mood for a full meal. When you listen to a particular piece again after a long period, everything sounds a lot more powerful and convincing again.

Thank you Peter for this interview, and see you soon!

During his very first concert in Belgium at our headquarters in Ruiselede (2015), he played on our Doutreligne Seven design piano after the concert. You can find the video below!