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15 Questions to Simon Bächinger

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! I’m Simon Bächinger, I’m 18 years old and live close to Zurich. I am currently studying at a musical Gymnasium in Zurich and preparing for my general qualification for university entrance in Biology (Matura).

What’s on your schedule right now?

Right now, I am getting ready for a new concert. We are planning a tour of Switzerland, which will see me perform classical works and jazzy, improvisational pieces, as well as my own compositions from my new CD (“My Rhythm”). I will also be improvising four-hand with my piano teacher Galina Vracheva, an internationally renowned Bulgarian concert pianist, on themes from the audience. I look forward to that very much.

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

That’s a hard question for me to answer. I can not even imagine a life without music, because it has always been a part of me since my childhood. Already as a little boy, I would prefer our music room above any other in the house, fascinated by sounds and rhythms. I wanted to get to know it all, try everything and turn everything into an object of sound. Later, this would turn into a way for me to express my feelings. If I’d be mad, I would drum and if I’d be sad, I’d play melancholic sounds on the piano. My sister once told me she could tell how I was just by hearing me play.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

I’d say that life itself is the biggest influence. Music helps me understand life and vice versa.
Other than that, there are four pianists whom I worship. They are Oscar Peterson, Evgeny Kissin, Keith Jarrett and of course my piano teacher Galina Vracheva. She is a wonderful person and an extraordinary pianist – a strong personality. She has encouraged and supported me in a way for which I am extremely thankful.

Another influence has been my encounter with Pierre Favre. He is a well-known percussionist in Switzerland. When I was 6, I was given the chance of playing Djembe, an African percussion, with him on the occasion of my godmother’s birthday. I was fascinated completely. Since this day, the Djembe has become an integral part of my life – just like the piano.

And then I’m thankful to my mother, who is a musician herself, for her important and tireless support. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am now as a pianist.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?

The best part of being a musician is discovering music’s plenitude again and again. Music teaches me numerous and valuable things, which I can use for my entire life. By looking at rhythm, one learns about the importance of timing. And a beautifully played melodic line can compare to an important statement. And then there’s 1000 more examples.

One of the greatest things to me is playing with other musicians. If you listen closely, there is an unspoken sense of understanding, which often contains more meaning than words. Music is a universal emotional language. It can also be understood regardless of age – I like that.

The hardest part for me right now is having too little time for music, because I need to study for my matura examn.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Classical music is a very profound art and contains a lot of wisdom. It can transport values which have been all but forgotten today. It is unfortunately increasingly being drowned by commercial music. Contemporary classical music needs to find a way of surviving in a hectic, stressed and performance-oriented society full of short-term, inferior music.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Classical music is the fundament of music. I believe that just as much as everybody walks differently and laughs differently, everybody will perceive music in a different way and pass it on through his personality. Thus, each interpretation of a classical work is unique and subsequently valuable!

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
The best concerts are those which are able to establish a dialogue between the musician and the listener. I have made the experience that I tend to perform best, when I cease thinking, if I loose myself completely and become one with the music. It is a state which is hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it yourself!

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
An interpretation is a reflection of one’s own personality!

How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?
I treat each composer with a lot of respect and deal with his music intensively. When I perform, I will try to get across what the composer intended to say in my own, personal way – thereby serving his music, so to speak.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
It is hard to say. There can be no doubt about the fact that current musical pedagogues carry a great deal of responsability towards classical music. We should not try to force classical music upon anyone, but I do believe that, as a teacher, you should do everything you can to get across the immese importance of classical music to your pupils.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I would invite Keith Jarret and my humble self to the KKL in Luzern and ask them to improvise on two grand pianos. 

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?
Ever since playing it for the first, the piano has become my dearest friend.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I do that all the time! I play everything that emits sound, because I want to get to know new sounds all the time and also because I am interested in the different techniques of other instruments. I play various instruments simply because of the fun of it. 

My Rhythm (2006)

Simon Bächinger
Simon Bächinger at MySpace

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