RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

15 Questions to Richard Harwood

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi Tobias. I’m fine, thanks. I’m in a grey and rainy London at the moment.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Well, last night, I had a concert with violinist Jack Liebeck – we each played some solo Bach, then Mozart G major Duo and finished with the Ravel Duo. We have another concert tomorrow and about ten more over the next weeks. I’m also preparing for a Shostakovich Festival which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland next month.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?

That’s a tricky one – because music found me so early in life, it’s difficult to imagine to have ended up doing something different to what I do now. However, if I had not been involved in music, maybe I would have been involved in law, business or management, or have been a police pursuit driver (my parents were police officers)!

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Those I’ve studied with have undoubtedly had the biggest influence on me as a musician and cellist – Joan Dickson, Steven Doane, David Waterman, Heinrich Schiff, and Ralph Kirshbaum. Steven Isserlis, too, who I spent lots of time working with at the International Musicians Seminar, at Prussia Cove in Cornwall. And there are so many more wonderful inspirations who aren’t cellists or even musicians...

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
Here, Tobias, there should be an alternative question for cellists! I LOVE to travel as a musician but the hard part about being a cellist is travelling with a cello. Should have studied the piccolo...! Tomorrow, I’ll be travelling by train. I’m certain I’ll be wishing I had chosen the piccolo as I try to navigate my way to my seat with cello and suitcase! The best part about being a cellist and musician is everything else.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Yes and no. In England, music in schools is terrible - the opportunity to really learn an instrument at school has practically been wiped out which stops so many young kids experiencing the thrill of making music and playing the instrument they may otherwise have wanted to play. There’s also the crossover debate and the age debate – so often I play concerts and, unless it’s in a major city with a conservatory, the average age of the audience is never younger than around 50. It’s not right. Having said all this, the classical music scene seems healthier than ever in other respects.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?

I tell them ‘I hope not’ because I’ve just made a recording! Seriously, though, I think it’s a ridiculous notion. Times change, everyone’s interpretation is different. Why do we still go to concerts or to the theatre to watch and listen to a new staging of a play? If someone has something interesting to say, why not record it?

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?

Be true to the music, be true to yourself and always engage with the audience and your heart. Go where the music takes you at that moment.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
An individual personal account of a piece – preferably with respect and consideration to the score and what the composer wanted.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
True – without a doubt!

True or false: “Music is my first love”

You mean is Music my first love today, or was Music my very first love? Well, music was probably my very first love as I was four when I started experiencing making music (or, rather, making noises!). Today, though, my girlfriend is my first love – but we’re both musicians so music is certainly our primary passion. Having such a first love, though, only enriches the music I make so it’s a perfect combination for me!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it. 
To appreciate it – False.  To really appreciate it. - True

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?

To give you a full answer, I’d need to think about this for at least several weeks! However, I would invite lots of friends, colleauges, and other people who I respect as musicians and probably arrange a completely varied programme, perhaps focusing on duo and chamber music. Depending on the budget, perhaps some orchestral concerts as well...let me have a longer think about this question!

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?

Well, normally, I listen to a lot of non-classical music in my free time and, when it comes to classical, I have many favourite discs. Recently, I’ve found myself listening to the Alban Berg Quartet playing Dvorak Quartets (E flat major and A flat). I got to know some of the members whilst I was studying in Vienna with Heinrich Schiff. Also, I’ve been listening to Barber’s Violin and Cello Concerti with Kyoko Takezawa and Steven Isserlis, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?

I also play the piano. I studied it for around 20 years. During my teens, I was the same level on both instruments but, inevitably, I had to focus and decide on one. I still play when I can, particularly the piano scores to all the sonatas and concerti I play. It’s also fun to just improvise.


EMI Debut Disc to be released January 2007
Beethoven and Chopin Sonatas. Other works by Glazunov, Rubinstein, Offenbach, and Popper
Until January 2007, check out

Richard Harwood

Photo by Paul Mitchell / EMI Classics

Related articles

15 Questions to Velitchka Yotcheva
Things are hardly ever the ...
Maja Bogdanovic: Wins at Aldo Parisot
Maja Bogdanovic has secured the ...
15 Questions to Richard Boothby/Fretwork
Richard Boothby is a man ...
15 Questions to Maja Bogdanovic
Most artists hate algebra, but ...
Interview with Urna
Every time the same images ...

Partner sites