Born a month before the start of the First World War and a few months after the death of one of her favorite composers, Claude Debussy, the French pianist is not content to play the piano four hours a day.

In her apartment on the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Seine, this frail lady with slender arms manages to move slowly between the three pianos that sit in her living room.

His longevity impresses, his enthusiasm even more.

"I'm young," she exclaims. "Age is stories that don't exist. (...) There are people who are eternally young, amazed by everything, and then people who are jaded about everything and have never liked anything, not even their guy, if it turns out!" she smiles.

At her side, her son, the journalist Fabrice Maze, indicates, not without pride, that she "is probably the last centenarian to continue recording albums".

"The piano, my life"

Since she turned 100, she has become the darling of social networks and media around the world (with a dedicated Facebook page). "It lifts people's spirits, hence its crazy success," Maze said.

"She has no diabetes or cholesterol, her blood pressure is normal. She drinks wine, eats cheese, chocolate... And people who are 80, 90 years old say to themselves: +Finally, we are not screwed+", he jokes.

French pianist Colette Maze, born on June 16, 1914, poses during a piano session on March 24, 2023. © Stéphane DE SAKUTIN / AFP

Her memory is naturally no longer what she was but she keeps a distant memory at 4 years of the bombing of the "Big Bertha", this piece of artillery used by the Germans during the Great War.

The Liberation, on the other hand, has faded from his memory. And to the question of who is the President of the Republic, she often answers Pompidou or Chirac. "She is in the moment but is completely disconnected from the news," comments her son.

During the Second World War, "I was a nurse in Auxerre (Yonne) and I made the exodus (of 1940) by bicycle, from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand with two saddlebags full of linen," she recalls.

Intact memories are often related to the piano: "When I was little, I was asthmatic; My mom played the violin with my piano teacher and it calmed me down."

Why does she keep playing? "Because it's my life... The piano is a friend. I need to feel it and listen to it," she says before performing Debussy's "Les reflets dans l'eau". "Schumann listened to his heart, Debussy, listened to nature," she said.

Born Saulnier into a bourgeois family in Paris, she began playing the piano at the age of 5 but her parents were opposed to her becoming a professional pianist. However, at the age of 15, she managed to enter the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where she studied with the famous Alfred Cortot and Nadia Boulanger.

The one who taught for decades at the Ecole normale de musique and the Conservatoire de Bagneux is also the custodian of the Cortot method, taught before the war and based on exercises of relaxation and relaxation of all muscles.

French pianist Colette Maze, born June 16, 1914, poses during a photo shoot on March 24, 2023. © Stéphane DE SAKUTIN / AFP

"It is the last in the world to be able to show this method; a lot of pianists from all over the world come to see her work," Maze said.

This is how the centenarian, who does not suffer from osteoarthritis, has kept the flexibility of the hands.

His secret of youth? "I did a lot of dancing. I think I need to feel my muscles, my abs, my thighs, my arms. All this must be alive."

© 2023 AFP