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15 Questions to Jack Liebeck

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am fine, thanks. I’m in London having been on the road for rather a long time!

What’s on your schedule right now?
I’ve just finished a month-long recital tour of the USA and Israel, returning last week Tuesday. I then had to perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on Saturday in London! Now I am preparing for recitals this month in Italy, Switzerland and France and for some festivals in July including the Spoleto festival, where I’ll be performing with renowned pianist & festival director, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, which is really exciting.   

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I am a pretty passionate photographer and would probably do that. Perhaps a pilot??? However, I am very happy to be a musician.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Well, up until a few years ago that was my violin teacher, Mateja Marinkovic. Now I try and learn from all of the musicians with whom I work. I also admire the great virtuosos of the past like Nathan Milstein and Jascha Heifetz, but try not to copy them!

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
The hardest part is the administrative and political side of the music world. A lot of time is spent worrying about things that are nothing to do with playing, but I suppose that is the same in all professions.

The best part has to be the performing and playing with great musicians, plus seeing the world, although I always miss home...

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

The classical scene at the moment seems mixed-up. On the one hand, the record industry is having a hard time, but on the other there seem to be more classical musicians than ever! It is really competitive. I hope that the classical industry picks itself up. Unfortunately it has to compete with a mass media world where style comes over substance. But, I think that substance will always win in the end!

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Well, the market has been swamped by too many mediocre recordings as it is so cheap and easy to record CDs these days. I think that if there is a real reason to record a disc like, for instance, an absolutely outstanding enterpreteur of a particular composer or a truly outstanding talent then it should go ahead. But it seems that the industry philosophy says that as long as they put out thousands of recordings each year, they will sell on average..... a few.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I think that a performer’s job is to show the audience how great the music is and why they love it so much. Some performers seem to think that they are doing the audience a favour by being present at their concert and nonchalently do their job without respect for their listeners. I feel that it is the other way around; we, as performers owe the audience a great performance as they have made the effort to come and hear us. I always want to take the listeners on a journey; to make them feel as if they have experienced something by the end of the concert. I try my best to do everything I can to give them that experience. Hopefully it works!

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
See above...

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
True! We must, otherwise what sets us apart from any other performer?

True or false: “Music is my first love”.
True, and becoming truer as I get older. I really feel lucky to be playing some great masterpieces. Like re-painting a Picasso or Rembrandt in your own colors!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
True and false. I really think that as people get older they appreciate classical music more, even without education. They eventually get bored of 3 minute pop-songs which are manufactured like fast-food. But, if a child is educated in classical music he or she will always have a greater respect for it.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
Oh my!  That’s a big question.... I will have to think about that. I can easily think of the artists that I’d like to perform there though. It would be interesting to give these (great) performers the chance to play their favorite works. Lets see if the audience picks up that love of the music...

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?

I am currently listening to the complete Beethoven Symphonies conducted by Kurt Masur (on the Pentatone label). They are such masterpieces, and also really interesting listening to the pieces one after another where you can really sense Beethoven maturing.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I was forced to play the piano, and I really mean FORCED! I hated it and am not very good. I have never enjoyed doing things that I am not good at, whether it’s snooker, table-tennis or the piano. I also played the recorder before I started the violin, didn’t enjoy that much either!

Picture by Tim Meara

Works for Violin and Piano (2004) Quartz

Jack Liebeck

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