Pierre Bensusan

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“Listening to Pierre's music is rejuvenating. Beside his extraordinary touch and tone, the notes and melody appeal directly to the tender side of our human nature”
Steve Vai

“This is beautiful... Pierre is one of the GREATS!!!”
Tommy Emmanuel Cgp.

“Pierre Bensusan's music is a true inspiration.”
Suzanne Vega

“Pierre is one of my favorite guitarists. He has created a new way of playing and is the king of the DADGAD tuning.”
Micheal Hedges

See more quotes about Pierre from other artists


“It’s like the guitar has been given free reign to play it’s self!”

French-Algerian acoustic guitar virtuoso, vocalist and composer Pierre Bensusan, surnamed “Mister DADGAD”, has taken his unique sound to all corners of the globe.

Winner of the Independent Music Award for his triple live album "Encore", voted Best World Music Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine reader’s Poll, winner of the Rose d’Or at the Montreux Festival for his debut album, Pierre is recognized as one of the greatest guitar players of the 21st century.

When Michael Hedges titles one of his compositions “Bensusan”, you know that the inspiration behind it must be special and Pierre Bensusan certainly is. Guitarists from Leo Kottke to Larry Corryel, to Tuck Andress, Tommy Emmanuel, Mark Knopfler, Andrew York, Andy Timmons, to Steve Lukather… have sung his praises, and Steve Vai released three Bensusan albums on his label Favored Nations. And it's not just guitarists who are so inspired by Pierre's music, as a recent studio collaboration with him on Donny Osmond’s latest album “Start Again” goes to show.

If World Music means the fusion of traditional, contemporary, jazz, classical and pop music, then Bensusan is one of the most eloquent World Music musicians of our time. A pianist in his beginnings then self-taught on the guitar, the originality of his style makes him one of today’s greatest guitarists and composers for the instrument. Also called “The Prince of DADGAD”, his story is far from trivial and it is on stage that this artist has earned his stripes: among others, the Rose d'Or of the Montreux Festival, and being elected Best Guitarist of World Music by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine! His triple album "Encore" won the Grand Prix of the Independent Music Awards in the category Best Live Album... Since his first performances in 1974 in France, the guitarist has sold half a million albums and given thousands of concerts around the globe, both solo and through numerous collaborations.

Born in French Algeria, Pierre Bensusan is an adventurer of unusual lands. His almost “sacred” music is an intimate and orchestral hymn, a solo crossing on a multi-shell Lowden guitar subjected to the natural elements with sound molecules and finger pulp on an ebony fingerboard for open tuning - an unique and transparent technique, under the fingers of an adventurous pilgrim. Big emotion guaranteed.

“For me, Pierre can only justly be compared to someone of the stature of Keith Jarrett; so total is his mastery of the solo instrument, his dazzling harmony, his many innovations, and his deft command of counterpoint, the jazz idiom, folk expression, and all genres between and beyond. An entire history unfolds as he plays. But really, like Jarrett, the emotional depth – and this is where true artistry often likes to live – of many of his songs and compositions is all, well, breathtaking. With only his steel-string-acoustic guitar – and sometimes his rich, affecting voice – Mr Bensusan can disassemble your heart and hand it back to you restored and renewed. As he did to mine tonight. A true giant.”

James Volpe Rotondi (editor at Guitar Player Magazine)

"I've seen Alfred Brendel, Itzhak Perlman, Daniel Barenboim, Lynn Harrell, Nureyev, Placido Domingo, etc., etc., perform magnificently. Tonight, in Atlanta, in the last half of the second set, Pierre Bensusan went a quantum beyond the warm, compelling, appealing, extremely accomplished guitarist whose recordings and performances I've eagerly sought for over 30 years. He's achieved the sublime -- decades of technique, creativity, intuition, passion, and intensity crashed together -- a man transformed, singular, stunning. I have so seldom had the privilege and pure animal joy of experiencing this caliber of artistry."

Rain Crow (a fan)


  • Born in October 1957 in Oran (Algeria)
  • Moves to France metropole, in the west suburb of Paris, in 1962
  • Studies piano from the age 6 with Madame Rosso
  • Taught himself how to play guitar at 11
  • Quit school at 16
  • Records his 1st album « Près de Paris » at 17, and wins The Grand Prix/Rose d’Or of the Montreux Festival in Switzerland
  • Releases 16 albums, the most recent being « Azwan »
  • Leader of a world approach to the guitar, in open tuning
  • Has given about 4000 concerts around the globe and sold ½ million albums since 1975
  • Has lived in Oran, Suresnes, Nice, in the USA every year, Paris, and now in the French countryside, 1 hour from Paris since 1992


Donny Osmond, Jacques Higelin, Jean-Marie Ecay, Yoko Kano & Cowboy Bebop, Didier Malherbe, Jordan Rudess, Mico Nissim, Bobby Thomas Jr, Emmanuel Binet, Michel Benita, Dennis Benharrosh, Franck Sitbon, André Ceccarelli, Nana Vasconcellos, International Guitar Night (USA), Bill Keith, Roland Dyens, Marcel Dadi, Michel Haumont, Philippe Catherine, Larry Corryell, Doctor Jug & Mister band, Gingua, Andrew York, Cecilia Zabella, Paolo Bellinati, Bluegrass Passengers, Gene Parsons


  • Concerts in Europe + over 150 concerts in the USA & Canada in 2022
  • Commission of a music around an international project called « Le Jardin du Climat », (The Garden of the Climate » which illustrates what science can to counter act the effects of climate change with CD, for the Planetarium/Espace Mendès-France of Poitiers (2023 - 2026)
  • Tours in Europe & in China in 2023
  • Next North American tour in 2024
  • Several albums in preparation



  • Ards Guitar Festival Lifetime Achievment Award (Northern Ireland 2014)
  • IMA Award for Best Live Album, for "Encore" (USA 2014)
  • "Album of the Month for "Encore" in Guitarra Totale Magazine (Spain 2013)
  • "Intuite" named second Best Acoustic Album of all times in Guitarra Totale Magazine (Spain 2013)
  • Guitar Player Magazine Readers choice award, for 2008 Best World Music Guitar Player (USA)
  • 2002 AFIM (American Association for Independent Music) Award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album
  • Album du Mois/Album of the Month (Journal de Montreal/Canada)
  • Album of the Year (fRoots/UK)
  • Best Albums (Guitarist Magazine/UK)
  • Bravo de la Redaction (Trad. Mag./France)
  • Naird Award for "SolilaÏ" (USA 1983)
  • Grand Prix du Disque Rose d'Or at the Montreux Festival for "Près de Paris" (Switzerland 1976)


New Album: Azwan (released on MVD on March 13th)
North American Tour: 7th March to 18th July
New Book: Pierre Bensusan Guitar Collection (released on Hal Leonard, February 12th)

During a three year hiatus from international touring, Pierre has been writing exciting new material and perfecting his guitar-playing for his new instrumental CD "AZWAN", to be released on March 13, 2020. Pierre's 10th studio album will be backed by a 110 concert North American tour, from March through July, followed by tours in China, Japan & Europe.


The Story of Azwan

It's been three years since I last toured the US. I used to tour pretty much every year but realized that probably wasn't necessary. While playing regularly may benefit the improvisational nature of the music, it could also lead to a repetitive sequence of actions, thus creating a dull routine and habits that eventually attenuate the thrill. Trusting the bond built via my previous recordings and years of touring, I took an adequate amount of time off to invest myself into two new projects: a book (“Pierre Bensusan Guitar Collection”) and an album (“Azwan”).

Along my life's journey, I have experienced unity off and on, being more or less aware of the impact and influence of every action upon the entire universe. As time goes on, the more I feel connected to all people, animals and universally to the whole of nature. Being that we are all connected, my intention is that every action and behavior contributes, supports and adds value to our interconnectivity, especially through my music. It feels like a nurturing or even a healing process for me and those with whom I share it.

The name of the new album came from my wife, Doatea. The concept of “Azwan” came from observing bees, those solar insects working in the darkness together as one, and by observing flocks of birds flying and dancing together as one. It has been an inspiring symbolic representation of the continuum of music. When seeing “Azwan” written, it can evoke a place, a city or a mood, but when hearing it said out loud, it sounds like “as one.” I've been contemplating all the music from “Azwan” for years before actually recording it, taking time to allow all the notes to come together as one.

The process of crafting and composing music is like crossing the desert: the walk is long, tiring, challenging and sometimes feels lonely and hopeless, but there is an oasis and reaching it ultimately becomes the goal. Ideally, taking the stage is the time and place where everything comes together. Besides learning to play what I wrote, I considered how to overcome the challenge of playing every night, how to keep up the excitement. It's a thin line between sticking to what's written and stepping out into the world of improvisation. “Azwan” is primarily a solo instrumental album on which the guitar is conceived as an orchestra, delivering melody, bass, chords and counterpoint in the same space. To it, we add some vocal elements and several collaborations guest musicians.

My approach is similar to that of jazz musicians. While many are highly trained musicians, when they play, it is all about being in the moment and improvising. French guitarist Jean-Marie Ecay, with whom I had the great pleasure of producing the new album, takes a similar approach. He brought in Christophe Cravero on alto and violin and Stephane Kericky on upright bass: two prominent musicians from the French jazz scene. Jean-Marie also plays along with me on the track “Balkangeles”.

My quest is to create a space where the guitar and voice tell a story together. Then, I never feel alone when going into “the zone.” Bringing the audience along with me is a humbling experience; it's both an honor and a joy.

Pierre Bensusan

Album Credits and Liner Notes

Production: Pierre Bensusan & David Bevan

Compositions, guitare acoustique & vocal: Pierre Bensusan
Lyrics Paroles "Corps Vaudou": Doatea Cornu Bensusan

Guests Invités:
Stéphane Kerecki: upright bass contrebasse (1 & 9)
Jean-Marie Ecay: nylon string guitar guitare à cordes nylon (5)
Christophe Cravero: alto & violin alto et violon (9)

Mixing Mixage : Jamie Ward, Silk Mill Studios, Staffs, England (January 2020 janvier) www.thesilkmill.co.uk

Production artistique: Jean-Marie Ecay & Pierre Bensusan

Recording Enregistrement: Maïkol Seminatore
Dadgad Studio, Château-Thierry, France (between September and December 2019 entre septembre et décembre)

Mastering: Marwan Danoun, Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium

Production exécutive: Doatea & Pierre Bensusan
Post-prodution: Maïkol Seminatore & Pierre Bensusan

Cover, inside & back photographies Photos recto, intérieure et verso: ©Christian Taillemite

CD photography Photo sur CD (Ardara, Co. Donegal, Ireland): ©Doatea Cornu-Bensusan
Rear CD photograhy Photo arrière CD (Haikou, China Chine, July juillet 2019): ©Jiangming Gu

Cover design & artwork Maquette et conception graphique: Anne-Marie Cornu

Publishings & Copyrights 2020: Pierre Bensusan (Sacem, France)

Music played on the original "Old Lady" model designed by George Lowden in 1978
Musique jouée sur la Lowden modèle "Old Lady" construite par George Lowden en 1978

Management: Alive Network - www.alivenetwork.com




Jean-Marie Ecay to have been my two other ears from the start of this project; also for his vision of the music, friendship and unshakeable support.

Maïkol Seminatore, "Il Dottore", for the sound, his full commitment and insights

Jamie Ward for his great mixing

Christophe Cravero & Stéphane Kerecki for their musicianship

George Lowden for having, since 1978, conceived the guitar I dream out loud with, as well as to have built the current Signature models that have followed George Lowden

Dave Bevan, my manager in England, for his fantastic support and unvaluable insights, also everyone at Alive Network, especially Rich Hearn (Graphism, communication, social networks & newsletters), Tim Laws (webmaster), Jim Hodgekinson (agent) & Cathryn Briggs (graphism, Dadgad 3D Vision logo graphic concept).

Christian Taillemite for our longtime friendship, his colourful vision and to be my road manager throughout Europe.

A very special thanks and my gratitude to the Patrons Sponsors for greatly supporting the production of this album. Peter Jahn, Dale Grote, John & Elaine Memishian, Paul Norman, Steve Sivulka, Serge Guinot, Hiroyuki Suzuki, Jim & Sharon Tabasz, Tom Mowrey, Takao Inoue, Emoretta Yang, Shamus Johnson, Ned & Linda Hearn, Steve & Brian Bongiovanni, Richard Cieslak, George Seldon, Duke Bullard, Larry Birger & "Learn from the Masters Music Outreach" Foundation (www.LMMO.org)

For their friendship, craft, collaboration, advices, listening, support and presence: Roland Gallery, Leslie Dupin, Brenda Lewis, Jeff Schroedl & Hal Leonard, Nick Walton & Wyres Strings, Jürg Vogt & Vovox, Mark Hamre & NeckUp Guitar Support, Arjen Ease & Audio Ease, Klaus Schanz, Thomas Franke, Ranphi Li, Weifeng Li, Sarah Valinsky, Stéphane Maddy Lecyn, Jiangming Gu, Danny McKinney & Requisite Audio Engineering, Rich Barbera, Steve Vai, Christian Hugonnet, Marco Delporte & Woodbrass, Vicelow, Emmanuel Binet, Roberto Lana, Guitong Lee, Nathan Reid, Mark Soileau, Christophe Goudot, Rob Doyle, Christian Leblanc, Stéphane Lebeuf, Philippe Leclerc, Nick Perez & Fabrizio Zucchelli

My son, Théophile, aka Joker Yudat, for dancing his life, and his partner, Rana Nazli.

And finally my wife, Doatea Cornu Bensusan, for her thorough listening of every parcell of this music and be on my side again for this album, and above everything, to be the greatest musician of life I know. You have showed me the most beautiful path. This album is for you!

All the scores of this album + technical details, insights and more can be found in the book "Pierre Bensusan Guitar Collection" (Hal Leonard).

A dedicated page to «Azwan», with write-ups, anecdotes, pictures, lyrics and much more is available at: www.pierrebensusan.com/azwan


#1 to à Théophile Bensusan
#2 to à Brett Tracy
#3 to à Doatea Cornu Bensusan
#4 to à Rana Nazli
#5 to à Serge & Leslie Dupin
#6 to à George Lowden
#7 to à Kenny Rankin
#8 to à Nathan Reid
#9 to à Gonzalo Castro
#10 to à Brendan McKeever
#11 to à Jimmy Yudat
#12 to à Gloria & Peter Pivonka

© ℗ 2019 MVD Audio. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

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