was born in 1981 in Schoelcher, Martinique. At age 8 he took some piano lessons in a private
school in his hometown La Rochelle, Charente Maritime (the county), but soon became bored by
solfeggio, solfeggio... and boring tunes. On one occasion during that period Gilles heard his
teacher play a wonderful thing, that engraved in his memory (he didn't know yet, that it was
"The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin). Then, Gilles stopped taking his piano lessons.
At the age of 14 he decided by passion to start again. He had completly forgotten his solfeggio lessons, thus he couldn't read music at all. He wanted to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" in C# minor, so his mother, who is a violinist, taught him note by note how to play it. He learnt it in two months, and can still play it today. From that time, he's always learnt all the tunes by heart, even if he now reads the music himself.
He then remembered the tune he'd heard in the past, but he didn't know its title or the name of its composer. Fortunately, a friend found a score of "The Entertainer", and a recording of piano rolls played by Scott Joplin himself. He quickly learnt it and discovered "the sting" (humor!!) - it was a simplified arrangement! He wanted to play the original version, so he started looking for a folio of Joplin's original tunes. He found it, and immediately learnt to play them all.
After that, he discovered stride piano of Thomas "Fats" Waller, James P. Johnson, Eubie Blake, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and started to play in this more difficult style. He started collecting recordings of piano rolls, historic recordings, contemporary artists in ragtime, stride, traditional jazz, Terra Verde, and also classical recordings (he loves Debussy, Satie, Mendelssohn) and medieval music. It was at that time, that he began to seriously compose music.
In 1998 he joined the "Conservatoire de musique" in La Rochelle and started taking tuba and euphonium lessons... and more solfeggio. He currently studies animal biology at the university of La Rochelle.
Gilles frequently plays ragtime and the tuba at the local jazz societies, and has also had a few opportunities to give stride piano concerts. He's a member of two small bands, "Sur le Banc" (a quartet playing jazz, irish and yiddish music), and "La Tournée Du Placard" (popular songs, street theater).
Since the age of 13, he's composed about 20 pieces, consisting of a mix of ragtime, stride, South American music, and romantic European music. With these works, he tries to revitalize this style (as the American composers do with Terra Verde). Gilles has also written music for brass ensemble, and the two bands he's currently playing with.
More rags by Gilles Monfort can be downloaded from the French ragtime page.