Aug 12 2011

François Glorieux: “Do you know that he danced with me in his studio?”

Category: Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 4:22 pm


Michael with François Glorieux

Michael with François Glorieux


Blues Away” aka Marisa


François Glorieux is currently 78 years old. Having been personally commissioned by Michael to compose classical renditions of his greatest hits, the death of Michael Jackson is still very emotional for him.

François is a Belgian musician, pianist, composer and conductor who has toured Europe, the USA, Latin America, Canada, Japan, China, Middle East and Africa with his music. He gave many concerts in Spain in the beginning of his career 50 years ago, especially in Zamora, Leon, Burgos, Palencia, Valladolid, La Coruña, Vigo, Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Logroño, Mieres, Sabadell, Granada, Malaga, Cartagena, Lorca, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid and San Javier – always with good reviews from the press. His specialty is classical music in a style with which the public can identify. He is Honorary Professor of Chamber Music at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Ghent, Belgium, Visiting Professor at Yale University, USA, among others. He has worked with musicians like Paul McCartney.

Francois met Michael on 2nd of May 1989, because Michael requested they meet privately to talk about classical music. Michael asked François to make classical arrangements of his biggest hits.

A year later they met again and Michael was delighted with the three compositions François’ had done: Bad, Smooth Criminal and Liberian Girl. Michael said: “His band is wonderful. François is an exceptional musician and his orchestral arrangements of my songs are fascinating. I have him asked to continue working along these lines.”

Less than a year later, both artists met once again. They listened to ‘Liberian Girl‘ together and discussed his orchestral arrangement. Michael immediately organized a photo shoot for the next day and over 100 photos were taken. Through the years the plans changed, but the friendship remained.

Michael and Francois reviewing Liberian Girl musical arrangement

Michael and François reviewing Liberian Girl musical arrangement

Two of the first three songs FG arranged classically, ‘Bad‘ and ‘Smooth Criminal‘, were successfully performed three times by the National Symphony Orchestra of London between 1992 and 1993 with 85 musicians, and once in the BBC Radio Orchestra with François himself conducting the orchestra. François generously shared with us the following via email to Marisa (“Blues Away“). Translation may not be exact but is as accurate as possible:

That was Michael’s wish and his intention that I arrange 12 of his most important hits but done in the classical way and only for acoustic instruments. In fact, his wish was to be performed between great composers as Beethoven, Brahms, and so on. His idea was also to organize a great concert in the Hollywood Bowl with me as conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra for a Unicef gala. The versions I did obtained a real triumph by the audience! Unfortunately they are not recorded but completely finished.

Subsequently, FG also shared that he is still trying to find a sponsor to record the three songs (Bad, Liberian Girl and Smooth Criminal) but it is very difficult because these are songs written for an orchestra of 85 musicians. He also shared some touching moments between he and Michael when he played “She’s Out of My Life” and when he discussed his mother with Michael. Michael seemed to have a message for François from his deceased mum:

There are also other versions I did for symphonic band and brassbands. I must tell you that Michael told me that he had a real passion for classical music and that he appreciated that I was improvising on the Beatles revisited in the classical style. His 3 favorite composers were Mozart, Prokofiev and Debussy. Do you know that he danced with me in his studio? It was crazy because we had so many common points of view: peace and freedom, a great passion for animals and last but not least “humanity”.

I can tell you that Michael and I became the best friends of the world and that he was crying on my shoulder when I was playing “She’s Out of My Life”. He kissed me many times and when I left after 3 hours we spent together he said: “François it’s a pity you are not my brother.” The contact was unique and we did more than 200 photos together!

“Still hoping for peace” is a part of the suite called “Tribute to Michael Jackson” consisting of 8 pieces about him.

When I heard about the death of Michael, I had to leave Belgium to fly to Vienna for a TV recital and 2 weeks later in Prague which is my favourite city and where I did a special “Homage Michael Jackson” with some Czech artists. Between those 2 great cities I composed the piece “In Memoriam MJ” first for piano and later for string quartet because Michael loved strings so much. You will find all those versions on the CD. I am stll trying to find a sponsor to record “Bad”,”Liberian Girl” and “Smooth Criminal” but this is not easy actually and those pieces are written for a large symphony orchestra of 85 musicians.

My 3 meetings with Michael are the most emotional memories of my life. The contrast between the King of Pop on stage and the same person in full intimity was enormous.The press described him as an untouchable and impossible man but I discovered a complete other guy, extremely sensitive, emotional and even shy and timid. Michael gave me the impression not to be lucky and needing a deep affection he missed. The first hour I met him he asked me to describe the period when I was young. He didn’t interrupt me and was listening to the story of my youth when 3 bombs destroyed my house and killed 3 members of my family. At a certain moment he asked me if my mother was still alive. When I answered that she died several years ago he said: “François, she is so happy now because from heaven she can see that we are together“. I will never forget this sentence, believe me. And each time when I perform “She’s out of my life” I feel tears in my eyes and need the greatest concentration to end the piece on the piano.

In an interview with Belgian television, François plays the piano in an emotional and beautiful composition of the song ‘She’s Out Of My Life‘.

In this video you can hear the song written especially for Michael as a tribute, ‘Still Hoping for Peace‘ - included on the CD.

And below is a video of François playing some of Michael’s songs on classical piano ‘In Memoriam Michael Jackson‘:

And, more photos of Michael and François here:

Michael and François

Michael and François

Michael and François

Michael and François


Michael and François

Michael and François

François’ CD, called “François Glorieux: In Memoriam Michael Jackson“, which includes some Michael works arranged for piano, and some of his own work in tribute to Michael, can be purchased on his website:

François is also a dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait. Upon receiving his Celebrity dot, Francois said, “This is one of the best days of my life.” He was very touched.

The five hours I spent with Michael Jackson in Los Angeles will certainly be the most emotional of my musical career. It was fantastic to discover so many common points: passion for music (without limits), for peace and freedom, love for animals and nature. In one word: for humanity!  -François Glorieux

François gets his dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait

François gets his dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait

Directing with glittered glove!

Directing with glittered glove!

My thanks to “Blues Away” and to François Glorieux for sharing this information and these memories and music with us. I know Michael very much appreciated classical music and would have loved hearing more of his music done in classical form. I hope that François will soon be able to record his completed compositions of Michael’s music with a full orchestra as intended.

Every time I’ve heard a song of Michael’s done classically it has been stunning. That is the nature of Michael’s music – his melodies and rhythms are universally beautiful in any style, particularly classical. It’s a testimony to his genius – and to the love and admiration so many other artists, composers and musicians have for him.

Know this: No matter how others will try to bury it beneath scandal, these are the things about Michael Jackson that will endure in the collective memory of humanity as long as humanity exists. Michael knew this and had the spiritual awareness and the self-awareness to strive for eternal life through his art. And, he succeeded!

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16 Responses to “François Glorieux: “Do you know that he danced with me in his studio?””

  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you, Seven, for sharing this. You really know to dig deep and find beautiful stories about people Michael were friends with!

  2. Seven says:

    I suspect the issue is not so much cost as it is legal wrangling.

  3. morinen says:

    Seven, do you know how much it would cost to record those three pieces for 85 instruments? I wonder if we could help him raise the money…

  4. Mado says:

    Seven thank you for this amazing article.This will be a very interesting project indeed.

  5. carina for mjj says:

    This will be a very interesting project. Michael’s music is intricate and personal. There will be material for many years. I hope the estate, Sony nor the family will set up difficulties or demand exorbitant fees for using Michael’s music as the basis for these new interpretations. Michael’s music deserves this.

  6. Joyce says:

    Thank you Seven, “Blues Away”, and Mr. Francois Glorieux for sharing these loving memories of Michael and this amazing presentation of Michael’s beautiful music. Your final paragraph is perfectly stated…so absolutely true!
    I have listened to some short clips of the London Symphony Orchestra performing classical versions of some of Michael’s songs. It sounded amazing but I don’t know if it was the music that Mr. Glorieux composed. I had also previously seen that article in the Baltimore Sun about David Michael Frank. Another wonderful story of Michael’s loving spirit and musical genius. I do hope that someday we can hear some of this beautiful, inspiring music.
    The part of Mr. Glorieux’s story where he describes what Michael said to him regarding his mother who had passed away, is so very touching and once again shows the deeply caring, loving, and spiritual man that Michael Jackson was and always will be in our hearts. As you so wonderfully stated in your last paragraph, Michael’s humanity will live on eternally!
    Thanks so much again. I will certainly be checking the link to Mr Glorieux’a website for another excellent addition to my music collection.

  7. Seven says:

    I expect it would have to be the estate, Max. I wonder if they’ve even considered it at this point, or if they even know about it?

  8. Susan Trout says:

    Reading the accounts of people who knew and loved Michael is both fascinating and heartwarming. To have known him as a trusted, devoted friend would have been as magical as a precious fairytale come true. The deepest, most incredible feelings have to be felt with the heart. When I listen to Debussy now, images of Michael always come to mind. I loved Clair de Lune as a child. It’s beauty and sweetness takes on a whole new meaning now. The regret, the sadness in his loss is never more intense than knowing we’ll never experience the fruits of his natural progression to classical music compositions and poignant films. When he died it was as if the most beautiful rainbow that ever appeared suddenly was snatched from the sky, obliterated, before the world could take it all in and rejoice in its beauty.

    Thank you Seven and Blues Away. This was wonderful!

  9. Max says:

    This is great, Seven. Thanks for filling in the gaps. Who in the family would be responsible for giving the go-ahead? Why not the estate? I wonder how much David Michal Frank actually got done.

  10. Seven says:

    @Max and Betty,

    Though Michael asked Francois to compose his existing hits in classical style, I believe it was David Michael Frank whom Michael was going to work with on creating an album of new classical music:

    From July, 2009:

    He told me, ‘I have three projects going on simultaneously.’ One was the tour that the whole world knew about. The other two I believe no one knew about. One was to be an album of pop songs. Then he said, ‘The other one is that I want to record an album of classical music’ — what he called classical music.

    He said he listened to …

    classical music all the time; it was his absolute favorite. I was impressed with the pieces he mentioned: Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man and Lincoln Portrait; Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. I mentioned Bernstein’s On the Waterfront. Then Michael mentioned that he loved Elmer Bernstein’s film music, too, and he specifically mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird.

    I realized that almost all the classical pieces he mentioned are childlike, very simple and pretty, like Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. He also mentioned Debussy several times, specifically Arabesque [No. 1] and Clair de lune. He was very soft-spoken when were talking about music, but when he got animated about something, he was very changed. When he mentioned how he loved Elmer Bernstein, and I said I liked the Magnificent Seven score, Michael started singing the theme very loudly, almost screaming it.

    He said, ‘I’m making a CD.’ Then his son, Prince Michael, came in, and Michael asked him to find a CD player. Paris found one and brought it in with Prince. Michael played the CD. It was very pretty music. He said, ‘But a section is missing.’ He played a second piece. And he said, ‘But a section is missing, too. But I can hum it to you.’ I asked if there was a piano in the house, and he said there was one in the pool house. We headed out there, but Michael stopped when he saw the dog was outside, soaking wet from being in the pool. He didn’t want us to get splattered. It was kind of funny. Michael got another assistant to hold the dog while we went to his pool house.

    I sat at the piano and Michael hummed the missing part of one of the pieces. I had taken a little digital recorder with me and asked if I could record him. He was in perfect pitch. I tried to figure out chords to go with it as he hummed. He said, ‘Your instincts are totally right about the chords.’

    We talked about classical music some more. I played some Debussy pieces. Michael seemed very happy and I think he felt very comfortable with me. He mentioned Leonard Bernstein again, and I played some of West Side Story. He told me he had met Bernstein once and that Bernstein had said he was a big fan of Michael’s.

    Back in the house, whenever he’d go from room to room, you’d hear, ‘I love you, Daddy.’ ‘I love you, Paris.’ They all seemed pretty normal and happy.

    Michael was very anxious to get the pieces orchestrated and record the music with a big orchestra. I suggested we record it at the Fox, Sony or Warner Brothers lot. I asked if he could have someone call me to discuss the budget and he said he would take care of it. When I left there were several fans outside the gate.

    [Later] I talked to Michael on the phone. He asked me how the project was going and I said I was waiting to hear from someone so we could set the deal. I suggested we could record the music in London while he was doing the show there. He liked the idea. He again brought up Arabesque.

    I laid the music all out on my computer and started on the orchestrations. Finally, a week before Michael died, his manager, Frank Dileo, called and asked me for an email with the budget and an electronic mock-up of the music, the costs of orchestration.

    Now I have no idea what’s going to happen with this. I’m hoping the family will do something to get this done. I will not bring it up [with them] until after what I think is an appropriate time.

  11. Max says:

    A lovely posting. I heard right after Michael died that he was working with a classical composer, and have been waiting and hoping to one day hear what they had collaborated on. Few people who listen to Michael’s music catch the intricacies of the various melodies, harmonies,counter melodies and back-beats. And when he sings in harmony with himself and–as he loves to do and does so well–sings a few beats before or behind the melody, I find it so awesome that it gives me goosebumps. I definitely insist that we get all of the classical versions. I did watch and love the 2Cello’s rendition of Smooth Criminal. I can tell from the way they’re playing that song that they do get it.
    Give us more!

  12. Betty Byrnes says:

    Seven this is so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this. Only yesterday I was thinking about Michael’s music in classical form and wondered if there was anymore out there. Michael was also working on a Classical CD at Carolwood with a composer. I wonder if this is the same one? Yes indeed Michael succeeded beyond measure and has indelibly made the mark of the Master on this universe For All Time.

  13. Julis says:

    Yes he did succeed. The master has gone but his music and his vision lives on. Francois seems to be a wonderful person and it makes me happy knowing that not everyone in Michael’s life was a leech. God bless you Michael, your truth will be known.
    Thanks again Seven.

  14. Marisa (Blues Away) says:

    Seven, this is very touching for me, really. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I always read your posts and try to translate them to spanish but I’m not used to the opposite. Thank you again for sharing this memories in english too. I think that it worth. As you say, this are the things about Michael Jackson that will endure in the collective memory of humanity as long as humanity exists. I told to François that “humanity” is the most outstanding trait of Michael, in my opinion, and that’s why he emphasized that word. And I’m sure that Humanity is the most outstanding trait of François Glorieux, too. I hope he can see this words about him and his beloved friend Michael Jackson.

  15. Paula says:

    Seven, another beautiful story about our precious Michael……brings tears to my eyes. Especially after reading a horrid article in the Huffington Post today about the possiblity of a perfume and all the ugly comments about him….just made me sick!!!!!!

  16. Suzy says:

    It would be a wonderful homage and I hope Francois is really able to make a full orchestral presentation of those MJ hits.

    Seven – your very last statement under “Know this” is so true, so beautiful and affirming!