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15 Questions to Herbert Henck

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am fine, and as flattered as bothered to answer questions. Of course, I am sitting in front of a keyboard – this time of a PC, writing these answers as an attachment to an e-mail.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Right now? Answering your questions is my next job. A little later, I am taking my daughter to her riding lessons in a village nearby.

The Klavier-Festival Ruhr is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
I‘ll be well prepared. We might better talk about the performance after it’s done.

Which of the other performances will you definitely attend?

None, since I have to teach every day from Monday to Thursday and to give a concert on Friday evening. So I need every minute to concentrate on the work I was invited to play.

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?
It seems basically a good idea to me. Some people are reluctant to enter concert halls, and sometimes it seems easier to go into a church or a museum or any other room which is built for other reasons than music. Whether or not this is an advantage depends on the actual location. It is important that music and the room match aesthetically.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good performance is one where everything worked what I intended to do. But, of course, this is the rare exception. / There is no “approach to performing on stage”. It depends on the music I am playing, the hall, the audience, the instrument – the situation; there are so many factors which are different with each performance; unpredictable ones, so to say. What does it matter if I like the circumstances or not?

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

To make the right decisions and to be free to make decision at all.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I have no idea.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
There is no reason to answer this question in a general way. The history of music and the market have developed in such a way, that there are many recordings of the same pieces available. You might make your choice. But there is no point to say “twenty or sevenhundred is enough”. As long as there are customers and the products sell, there will be new recordings.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
To be free to change your mind and to do the opposite tomorrow from what you have done yesterday.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
It is not a “duty”, but it is inevitable; otherwise we better would employ machines for performances.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Neither the one nor the other. Sometimes true, sometimes false.

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

There are no “people”, there only human beings, individuals with different conditions to listen to music. Some might be very pleased to get verbal information and explanation, other ones hate it.

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

Since I never will be in a function like the mentioned one, there is no point for me to think about this question. It is too theoretical. There are too many factors and parameters involved to give a simple answer. It would be irresponsible, because not my taste alone but the audience’s as well is important and has to be considered.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I have problems enough to play the piano, so I was always content with this instrument.

Discography (excerpt):
Charles Edward Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 a.o. (1978) Wergo
John Cage: Music of Changes (1982) Wergo
G. I. Gurdjieff: Hymns from a Great Temple, Dances,...  (1982) Wergo
Charles Edward Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1 (1984) Wergo
Pierre Boulez: Première Sonate, Deuxième Sonate, Troisième Sonate (1985) Wergo
Charles Edward Ives: »Piano Pieces« (1985) Wergo
Improvisationen IV (1986) Wergo
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Klavierstücke I–XI (1986) Wergo
Charles Koechlin: Les Heures Persanes (1987) Wergo
John McGuire 48 Variations for Two Pianos (1987) Largo
John Cage: Cheap Imitation / Erik Satie: Socrate (1991) Wergo
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Goldstaub (1993) Stockhausen-Verlag
Federico Mompou: Música Callada (1995) ECM
Arnold Schönberg: Drei Klavierstücke op. 11 (1995) Wergo
Alexander Mossolow: Sonate Nr. 2 (Aus alten Heften) (1996) ECM
Josef Matthias Hauer: Sieben kleine Stücke op. 3, a.o. (1997) Wergo
Günther Becker: Passagen (1998) Cybele
Jean Barraqué: Sonate pour piano (1999) ECM
Hans Otte: Das Buch der Klänge (1999) ECM
George Antheil: Sonata sauvage, Mechanisms, a.o. (2001) ECM
Conlon Nancarrow: Three 2-part Studies, Prelude, Blues (2001) ECM
Festeburger Fantasien (2003) ECM
John Cage: Sonatas and Interludes (2003) ECM
John Cage: Early Piano Music (2005) ECM

Klavier-Festival Ruhr:
Herbert Henck teaching in Duisburg
Herbert Henck playing in Essen


Herbert Henck

Picture by Jutta Riedel-Henck

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