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15 Questions to Adam Golka

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello, I am great, actually, because it is my 18th birthday today [April
21]! Right now I am in Fort Worth, Texas, where I live and study.

What's on your schedule right now?
This week I am on break between concerts and I am preparing for what is
next: a series of concerts in New York City featuring the solo and chamber
music of one of my favorite composers, Johannes Brahms.  Other upcoming
"stops" include more concerts in New York, performances with the San Diego
and Fort Worth Symphonies, and a recital at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Please take a look at my website if you would like to
know more.

If you hadn't chosen music, what do you think you would do right now?
Well, it's hard to answer this question... perhaps I feel like music chose
me, and not the other way around.  I couldn't and wouldn't be anything other
than being a musician. However, if I had the voice for it, I'd love to be a
singer, maybe of Wagner. 

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

I don't think that there is one thing that I can choose. Great concerts and
recordings, my outstanding teachers, playing chamber music, working with
wonderful conductors, my life experiences... all those elements come
together and directly influence every interpretation of mine.

What's the hardest part about being a musician and what's the best?
I can quickly answer that the best part is the music. The entire experience
of making music, whether it is by myself or with others, and for others, is
an indescribable pleasure. And the hardest part? Well, I'd have to say
flying. I'm scared of airplanes.

What's your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

I'm not sure. It is no question that classical music is not the most popular
music around today, but I have never known it to be any other way. I think
many people, especially of the youngest generation, have not had the
opportunity to hear classical music concerts. If they did, they might feel
quite fulfilled, and perhaps have a better understanding of classical
music's place and purpose in the modern world.

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

Why did Monet paint lilies over and over? Why was there an American remake
of Tarkovsky's Solaris? Why are so many films based on books already
written, so many songs based on poetry already written? I cannot answer this
question practically, because art is not practical. People need to say the
same things over and over, and all in their own unique way. And that is

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

I find myself asking the first question very frequently... and the answer
consists of so many things, but I would say predominantly conviction of
expression.  And my approach to performing?  I love the audience, and always
draw inspiration from any source — for instance, something personal, or a
book, or the music itself.

What does the word "interpretation" mean to you?
I like to think of it as translating. A book of music, like a book in a
foreign language, is just a book until someone understands the language and
brings it to life for others. And then they must decide which words to use,
how to word sentences, and what flavor, if any, they will add to it. And if
the book only means a certain amount to the translator, then that may be all
it will mean to the inexperienced reader.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into
the music he plays.

True, of course. However, this sparks an interesting question.  Music has a
life of its own. In addition to the feelings and convictions of the composer
and performer, there is such great emotion inherent in the music itself that
may not be accounted for by any human beings involved. Otherwise, how could
Mozart, known for being rather dislikable and arrogant, or Wagner, who was
publicly known as an Anti-Semite, have written such divine music? Did they
always realize the full extent of what they were doing?

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

False. "Classical music" is rather vague...of course, understanding
Schoenberg's music or even appreciating the music from the end of the lives
of Schubert or Brahms may not be easy at first. But most classical music is
accessible at first hearing, and different people will understand and love
different things. Hopefully, they will go on to learn more, and to develop
passions for other kinds of classical music and further their love for what
they already know. Classical music is more and more exciting as you learn
more about it and continue living with it.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I would let the performers play exactly what they want to play, in whatever
format they want. That is my personal dream: to have complete freedom of
what I would play in recitals. Musicians should play that for which they
have an affinity, always. Even if it means making up their mind
spontaneously! I personally like to devote entire recitals to one composer
or style, to share what I have discovered in this music after having
thoroughly immersed myself in it.

What's your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Where to start? I have so many favorite recordings! Piano recordings? Right
now I would say Walter Gieseking playing Debussy; Emil Gilels playing Brahms
Second Concerto (with Berlin Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum), Beethoven's
Sonatas (especially Waldstein and op. 110), and Tchaikovsky's First Concerto
(with New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta); Martha Argerich playing Ravel's
Gaspard de la Nuit (live at Concergebouw); Richter playing Schumann's
Fantasy; Rubinstein's earlier recording of the Chopin Polonaises; Alicia
DeLarrocha playing Granados' Goyescas... am I getting carried away? I feel
like I've just begun! How about Jaqueline du Pre and Daniel Barenboim
playing Chopin's Cello Sonata, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf singing Strauss's Vier
Letze Lieder, or Carlos Kleiber conducting Beethoven's 7th Symphony? There
is so much, I can't stop! I did hear a magnificent recording yesterday of
Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax playing the Second Cello Sonata of Brahms -
incredible! (By the way, I have an I-pod and I carry around all these
recordings in my pocket!)

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

Yes, violin, and my condolences to all who have heard me play it!


New Music, New Pianist 2002

Adam Golka

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