RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

15 Questions to Gerhard Oppitz

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I’m sitting at home at my desk, enjoying fine health and ravishing in the delightful view the sun shining on the top of the trees.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I just returned from Neumarkt, where I have continued to work on my project of recording all Beethoven piano sonatas – 22 of them have already been recorded, and hopefully I will be able to finish the remaining 10 until the end of the year. Over the next few days, I will devote some time to my students and prepare my program for the Klavier-Festival Ruhr.

The Klavier-Festival Ruhr is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
I will present two absolute rarities of the repertoire. Hindemiths „Klaviermusik mit Orchester op.29“ was premiered last winter in Berlin, after spending many decades in a private archive. Together with the Bochum Symphonics, directed by Steven Sloane, I will furthermore play Beethovens transcriptions of his famous violin concert for piano and orchestra. This version, for which Beethoven wrote some highly remarkable cadences, using timbals, has only rarely been played. About ten years ago, I recorded one of the few interpretations of this transcription together with the Gewandhaus-Orchesetr Leipzig, directed by Marek Janowski. At the time, this took place in the context of the five famous concerts for piano and orchestra by Beethoven.

Which of the other performances will you definitely attend?
There’s a whole list of dear friends and collegues, who will also be performing at the festival, who I’d like to welcome personally – among them Anthony and Joseph Paratore, who will be playing one day ahead of me. Unfortunately, this will not be possible, because I have an appointment to practise with the Bochum Symphonics at the very same time.

One of the Festival’s ideas seems to be that the perception of (Classical) music be altered by the use of unusual locations. What’s your point of view on this?
The idea of performing Classical Music outside of the usual concert halls adds an especially attractive perspective to a music festival – an unusal location can evoke unusual associations in the listener

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Two things are important: A good preparation, which allows an artist to stand above things and to act competently. And secondly, the will to get involved personally and to allow oneself to be lifted by the music.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
A lot of my colleagues find the strenous life on the road, with all its unpleasant surprises and accompaniments, to be a burden. Up to now, I’ve been fortunate enough not to suffer from that.
The best part, from my point of view, is the wonderful feeling of being able to bring joy to others by what I do.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I wouldn’t call it a crisis, but I do find it rather regrettable that many young people are neither by their family nor by their schools encouraged to deal with demanding music – in a way which I was as a child. On the other hand, those works that Beethoven or Schubert wrote, were never pieces for the masses – it was always a relatively select circle of people, who was willing to deliberately deal with this music and to be inspired by it. As long as my concerts still draw listeners from the most diverse generations, I remain carefully optimistic – in my opinion, the music of Beethoven will still be cherished and appreciated in one hundred years from now.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
It will remain interesting to see, how artists interpret compositions, which were written decades or centuries before them, using their current experience. That’s why I belive that even though Mozart and Beethoven provided their works with everything that was important to them at the time, there still remains a lot to be „said“ about them. Their pieces contantly need resuscitation by artists, who by their performance demonstrate what this music means to them personally.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

Interpretation to me means construeing a musical work using all the experience one has gathered as a musician and a human being

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
I feel the input of personal emotions to be both desirable and necessary for a vivid musical performance to take place. To consciously avoid one’s individual feelings would be no different from coldly reciting the notes – which could just as well be done by a computer and using a scanner and a synthesizer. It is exaxtly one of the hardest duties of a musician on stage to find the right balance between intellect and emotion.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Since I also feel love towards those people that are close to me and towards life in general, as well as nature and all forms of expression of art and culture, I couldn’t just call music my first love – still, it is one of the most important aspects, that make life worthwhile.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
It would be hard to believe that as interpreter we could educate the public. The foundation for the love for music will still have to be laid in a child’s infancy. The atmosphere in the parental home is the deciding key for the development of every child in my opinion.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
For the 2006 season I would love to devise some programs, in which the music of celebratee Mozart is juxtaposed with significant works of the bygone century – such as for example Bartók, Messiaen, Webern, Schostakowitsch, Berg.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
When I was eight, I tried to play the violin and thereby follow my father. But already after a few weeks my motivation had left me completely, as I simply couldn’t manage to properly control the flow of the bow with the right hand and have the left hand act in Vibrato-manner at the same time. At that time I could already play nearly all the piano sonatas by Mozart without problems and with joy. So I decided to lay those unsuccesful violin-dreams to rest and to focus on the piano. Up to this very day I admire, without envy, those people who have distinguished themselves as great violin-artists.

Gerhard Oppitz

Related articles

15 Questions to Simone Dinnerstein
Right now, Simone can still ...
15 Questions to Elijah Bossenbroek
To serve Elijah a menu ...
15 Questions to Gao Ping
Gao Ping has many faces. ...
15 Questions to Alex Routledge
Of course, Alex doesn't feel ...
15 Questions to the Duo Tal & Groethuysen
At the anual awards ceremonies ...
15 Questions to Anthony and Joseph Paratore
A special on the Klavierfestival ...
15 Questions to Alessandra Brustia
The world of Classical music ...
15 Questions to Magdalena Galka
A few things are noticeable ...
15 Questions to Christine Anderson
Don't even try to categorise ...
15 Questions to Julia Zilberquit
Russian-born American Pianist Julia Zilberquit ...

Partner sites