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15 Questions to Tatjana Ruhland

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hey, thank you, summerly well, having performed the Mozart D major concerto the other week, I was just travelling to Munich. I am playing in the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and we are rehearsing Ligeti, Bartok (2nd Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff) and Schumann 2nd Symphony in Herkulessaal at about 30 degrees Celsius...famous hall, but still without air condition!

What’s on your schedule right now?

The 2005/2006 season of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) will end with an anniversary concert at Liederhalle with Anne-Sophie Mutter and André Previn, followed by a festival of contemporary music at Theaterhaus, including a piece for spoken text solo plus rap choir and symphony orchestra. In the summer I will be working on the issuing of my new CD with works by Mel Bonis. I am very much looking forward to the Stuttgart based European Music Festival in September, where the RSO will perform about twenty Mozart Symphonies in two weeks with Sir Roger Norrington.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
That unconscious as well as conscious urge to combine the opposites, something that has to do with a personal approach towards life, a range of how to percieve the present existence of the cultural world mixed with our aknowlegdment of history and mankind, on the other hand a certain pleasant challenge in competitivness and discipline as well as being curious plus extroverted probably would have always guided me to do something artistic of any kind.

True or false: “Music is my first love” What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
I always was fascinated by the sound of the flute, it was influencing me as early as i can think of myself. My parents, who are music lovers, but no musicians themselves, were always supporting my musical education. I have to call myself very lucky, because I feel I had the best teachers I could get at the right time. When I think back I consider them being my musical family and I am very happy and thankful to them. Throughout one´s musical live there will always be influences of any kind that will enrich the playing and expand the horizon, at least as long as one is open minded, curious and willing to learn. This includes also the courage do try out new, different ways of playing. For example working with a chief conductor who is involved in a historically informed style of music making I started to perform some of the repertory on the wooden flute. This naturally requires to find new colors particularly offered by this instrument, different ways of articulation of phrasing. Eventually changing to the metal flute we figure this “adventure trip” has also influenced some aspects of  our general music making, simply leading to a clearer musical language.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
The same as for most of us! I would say in both ways it is freedom – meaning it´s the greatest gift we can get for our lifes; especially as a musician to have the freedom, the time and inspiration to dive into the musical outer space i.e. to practise, to perform, to record...but also this includes a challenge: the need to deal with let´s say finding a personally true, possibly new, but still informed way of making music – it´s like you have to see the boundaries first to be able to find out what freedom there actually is. Take this into account for a whole lifetime, it´s really both the hardest and the best at the same time.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
If we keep talking about a possible crisis rather than keep making music there will be some. I don´t suggest to be blind in terms of changes. Yes, we do have new aspects coming in. We have to refresh our picture of e:g. recordings, marketing, musical education. We did already quite well for example in redifining our view on interpretation, questioning the history of the style of performing, and searching for previously lesser known, but valuable information. We just have to get rid of the imagination that it will be the same as let´s say 250 years ago, where the audience were either a selected public at the court or in the church. Now look at it under the labels of crisis as well as freedom: back then as a composer/musician you could either please politics or live miserably. Nowadays we´ll find similarities to subjects like sponsoring or `making a career`, but at those times there simply was no powerful lobby for classical music in order to influence peoples lifes. On the other hand there was no official sobbing yet, that is overdoing it comparing the so called good, old times to the fear of decay for the future. To observe in order to have fresh ideas and to continue living with the arts – that´s great plus needed. Let´s deal with what we have learned through observation: an outlook on quite a bit of history at it´s best variations, which also included ups and downs. Times always change and classical music has proven to survive for a long time so it will continue to do so – today reaching more people worldwide than ever before!

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
All? There is so much out there that´s never been recorded – and most of it has to be heard. Go to the music libraries and you will find beautiful treasures of years and years of composing. That´s a very lively feeling, and maybe even an obligation to bring a wider variety of music to the public. My point is, as a performer and a listener we will find more information, a clearer picture, sometimes simply breathtaking news by performing and recording music by contemporaries of wellknown composers. So in the end we might come up with discoveries that will give a new light to the works that have been recorded dozens of times. It´s almost criminalistic work. Personally I feel in the middle of a fulfilled and enriched cultural world. Of course: not too long ago there simply was a much bigger need to keep anything for the record, i just have to look at our SWR archive to notice the energy of the 1950´-80´s, to just fill the shelves with recordings of the standard works. But why complain now about the natural slow down of the recording industry? What did change is the attitude towards a so called recording carreer. The work of a recording artist more and more includes a documentary and musicological approach on top of a convincing displayal of interpretation.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage? What does the word “interpretation” mean to you? True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
The key question here is “what is art?” – is it the fact that let´s say Beethoven did write down the idea of his ninth symphony, the actual piece of paper (UNESCO protected!)? Or is it the moment, when it is performed in concert, which already implies that throughout the history of performance the same work appeared quite differently over time? It should always be the first intention of the performer to get as close as possible to the ideas of the composer. But we have to admit that this will depend from the information as well as the personality of the performer. Both of that is constantly developing and of course we will always put parts of our lives into the music. The question is how much and if they are related to the intentions of the composer. Public therapy on stage would be too much, an oral exam in musicology too little. This picture of a re-creational artform is a very active element and gives an idea of the variety of performing. Think of this tremendous connection: in the concert the performer and the audience is
experiencing the same moment in time, intellectually as well as emotionally!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
True and false: one can certainly enjoy excellent cuisine without knowing what the recipie was. The only requirement: Be open and taste it! The wunderful part of classical music is on the other hand, by getting to know more you will enjoy more. Very simple: that´s what shows us the quality of music. There is something for the heart and something for the brain. To educate people in music, that is definetely some duty of our profession. Calling it a mission would be an overkill, but to me music and the arts is the richest gift we got from history of mankind. It relates directly to our present time, we just have to keep it alive and experience it as a part of ourselves.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I´d like to offer travels in time and space.
I would love to stage orchestral music that was written at the same time let´s say in a certain year even, but in different countries. For example at the time of Mozarts frequent travels throughout Europe, who was writing what at the courts he was visiting? There are many composers who represent the style of the time but were not performed internationally. Mozart knew them, he travelled there. It would be nice to have a set of concerts, one for each trip: Italy, France, Germany/Austria, England.
Or 1938-45 – how did composers of different nations deal with the horrible world war II scenario? Recently I was performing a chamber music concert that was reffering to “war and music”. It included Messiaen, Prokofieff, Schulhoff and Koechlin and we connected each piece with the Choral “Es ist genug” by J.S.Bach, which Berg quotes in the violin concerto as well, in different orchestrations. Or just pick one location f.e. Paris and stage music that was written there, but at different times. Rameau and Ravel, Jolivet and Boulez in one concert – very exciting! Also checking out certain musical forms throughout the centuries would be on my list: I was mentioning above the pieces for rappers and symphony orchestra. This is nothing other than the wellknown form of the Melodram. Why not combine it with Beethoven, Egmont. Or Schumann, Manfred. Wunderful to experience how diffenrent art forms, here poetry and music, have always made a good combination until the present day. Talking about Schumann´s anniversary: I can only recommend checking out his Oratories “Rose´s Pilgerfahrt” and “Das Paradies und die Peri”, both breathtaking masterworks! Schumann at his best, but for some reason not half as famous as his symphonies.

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Let´s see what´s next to my CD player: Sergey Taneyev (1856-1915), 12 choruses op.27 with Netherlands Chamber Choir, Tonu Kaljuste (Globe), Josquin Desprez (1440-1521), Missa de beata virgine with A sei voci (Astrée Auvidis), Feruccio Busoni (1866-1924), Violin Concerto D major op.35a with Frank Peter Zimmermann (Sony) – all next to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock...

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
You do not want to hear me play the piano nor the cello, trust me!!! Out of curiosity I did spend some time finding out about soundproduction and the special characters and possibilities of these instruments. Also I enjoyed singing in a quite good amateur choir. The voice training influenced my flute playing in  a very positive way. Fascinating to notice that we automatically pick the instruments that let us speak most natural, somehow referring  to our own character. On the other hand I always felt it interesting to observe how musical development is extremely influenced by the specific repertory of ones instrument: lucky violinists to grow up musically by studying a brahms concerto, lucky pianists to twist their brains practising Bach´s polyphony. For these reasons I can only recommend playing the great musical works written for any other instrument -  in the practise room!!


The Music of a Magician (2005) Hänssler Classic

Tatjana Ruhland

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