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15 Questions to Siiri Schütz

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! I’m fine! At the moment, I’m back in Berlin, living in the City which I love and in which I grew up.

What’s on your schedule right now?
In March, I recorded a new CD in Berlin, which will be released in September. The album will be called „Fascination-of-Variation“ comprising Mendelssohn-Bartholdys Variations sérieuses, Bach/Busoni Chaconne and Brahms Händelvariations among others. Next week, I’ll be playing solo recitals in Rom and New York and the end of the month will see me performing a two-piano concert in Berlin with a friend of mine, a slowak pianist.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I’d probably be lost… Or married with seven children (it’s not too late yet :-) Or else I might be a linguist, or maybe...

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

As a teeneager, Glen Gould was my hero. I absolutely adored his ingenious playing, I loved all of his excentricities and read his books from the first until the very last page without taking a break. What especially influenced me, were the absoluteness of his playing and the fact that he defied compromise.

I was also lucky to be able to work with some fantastic people and teachers, who had a significant impact on my development as a musician. I’d like to mention Claudio Abbado, Leon Fleisher, Pavel Gililov and Murray Perahia.

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

The most fullfilling part in the life of a musician is speaking a universal language and touching the hearts and souls of people with great directness.

A less satisfying aspect of my work is that I constantly feel I need to start all over again (once a concert is over, there’s always another one ahead). There’s just no way of clinging on to the moment and it’s hard work getting that freshness and straightforwardness you want out of famous pieces.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
The market for Classical music is in a crisis, at least over here in Europe. In my opinion, this situation might actually have some refreshing consequences. We are, more than ever, in need of unconventional ideas and of the dedication to the highest-possible level of quality and creativity – not only from musicians, but from music managers as well. Musicians should not hide behind the music but rather approach people on a personal level. Today, the possibilities of reaching people are more diverse than ever: Workshops, public projects, combining concerts with talks and debates...

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Music allows one to say relevant things right here and now and it will always be possible to say them differently, according to personality and ones geographical and intellectual background. Another point are sound aesthetics and the technical opportunities of recording, which are subject to constant change. Still, quite a lot of CDs on the market today will justly be forgotten.

For me as an artist, there are also some selfish motives at play: When hearing ones own recordings, one suddenly clearly recognises strenghts and weaknesses as well as ones visions. I could hardly imagine a better way of learning.  

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Being able to communicate through music is a gift that teaches me remarkable things about myself and the magic of life. The two dimensions of risk and self-conquest lead to a rush of adrenalin which in turn comes with a special kind of concentration. I really like this feeling. The audience has the pleasure to be able to experience an artist in his full presence as a human being and to witness his vulnerability. The performance – it’s a story with an open ending. 

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
„Interpretation“ means freedom and responsability at the same time. I try to establish a relationship with the piece and to the person the music talked to first – the composer. Sometimes you can feel his support – and sometimes you can’t...

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
The musician must, of course, be aware of the emotions inherent to a certain piece. Yet while on stage, he often has to deal with his own emotions as well, which, as a matter of speaking, run parallel (and occasionally even contrary) to the music.  No, ideally, one vividly undergoes the piece in the very moment of the concert, moves through its architecture and its colours, the character, the dramatical and psychological world of the work.. In this context, I like to speak of the “will to shape”.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
When witnessing and sharing in the sometimes dramatic events in the world, ones own life and special experiences while surrounded by nature, an artist gains experience and possibly the need to create a counter-world. Looking at things from this angle, music is an important and essential part of my life.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
Everyone can be deeply touched by classical pieces – or by any other kind of music..

On the other hand, a musical education is of highest importance and necessity. It possesses a cultural value that should not be lost or even watered down.

Scientific research has given us some insight into the wunderful „side effects“ of playing music at a young age. For one thing, gaining coordinative skills and improving minute motor activity balances brain activities of the right and left cerebral cortex just the way an intensive meditation would. In addition, improving cognitive structures when listening to the music of Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky and others is beneficial to the intellectual potential. The direct and emotional force of classical music offers some adventourous treasures. The deeper you dive, the more you’ll discover.

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 try and avoid every kind of one-sidedness and boredom. My goals would be to keep programmes diverse and to choose artists and projects that will make the audience and especially young people, curious. I’d also aim for any kind of active involvment by the audience (such as with the „Education Project“ by the Berlin Philharmonics and Simon Rattle). 

What’s your favorite classical CD at the moment?
There’s lots of them.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
No, but I did study a few semesters of conducting and it really helped me to sense orchestral colours more consciously and to imitate them on the piano. Also, I was better able to understand the importance of metrum, the pulse and of an organically evolving rhythm. Apart from that, I also took two years of singing lessons. In the end, both activities only showed me that my place is behind these black and white keys.

Fascination of Variation (Ars Musici) coming soon


Siiri Schütz

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