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Interview with Salome Scheidegger

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! I am fine although this heat makes me very tired. I’m sitting on the bench of my parent’s little garden in Zurich and wish I could take a short (or long) bath in the lake of Zurich!

What’s on your schedule at the moment?

Next week I will participate at a master class at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar / Germany with maestro Paul Badura Skoda and the week after I will give a concert in Sardinia / Italy, then I will have a recital at the Tonhalle / Zurich.

You are just back from an important concert in Japan. How did things go?

It was great! The concert was rather successful and I felt very good playing there, plus I had a funny experience: For the first time in my life I was followed by real fans who surrounded me asking for an autograph. One admirer even patiently waited in front of the place where I was invited for a reception for about two hours to get an autograph. 

Talking about Japan: You seem to have a deep relationship with the country and its culture. What makes it so special to you?
I grew up for the first years of my life with this culture, so it seems to me like “normal”. I love this country and everytime I return there I feel like coming home. Everything: The smell, the sounds, the looks, the voices in Japanese reminds me of my childhood.

You took lessons in Classical Japanese dance for quite a while. What did that teach you?

Well, Japanese dance was my first active touch with music. I learned to feel the music inside myself, to unify music with my body, which is also very important when playing the piano. I learned to pay attention to music actively. In addition to that I realized that it is crucial to bring everything that is important to me to perfection. 

One of your upcoming releases involves Grieg. What do you love about his music?
In the past years I have created a special love and relationship towards Grieg’s music. I am fascinated by the beautiful melodies, which are very melancholic. When I hear them mixed with some of Grieg’s typical harmonies, I feel like there’s an open door in front of me that leads me directly to the wide and deep space of a Norwegian Fjord. Though I have never been in Norway through Grieg’s music I feel very close to this country and I love it.

Some people refer to Grieg as being “cool” I actually find him full of the most diverse emotions and often, in fact, very “passionate”. Whom would you agree with?
I completely agree with you. I guess that those people who find Grieg’s music “cool” just let themselves guide by the fact that in this county the temperatures are low. As I explained I get “high” by hearing Grieg’s music. 

Another other composer featured on your upcoming releases is Mozart. It has often been said that, as a pianist, one needs to be incredibly precise to play him. Would you agree?
Yes, Mozart’s music is very pure and clear. So one hears every note you failed and every uneven passage. But I would say that as a musician you have to be precise in general.

Mozart’s piano pieces have never become as popular as the rest of his oeuvre. Would you say it was about time this changed?

Yes, of course. Mozart’s piano music is great: It is fun to play and a joy to hear it.

How did you personally experience the Mozart year? Too much Mozart? Too much commerce? Or a justified spectacle to celebrate a genius?
Well, I did not have too much time to listen to so many concerts with Mozart. So, for me it wasn’t too much at all. If we celebrate today’s Hollywood actors and follow every step of Paris Hilton, why not extensively celebrate the anniversary of one of our most important composers? And commerce is always a part of it.

Have your personal preferences towards composers changed a lot in the last few years?
No, in general not. Since I was a little girl I have always loved music by Chopin, Mozart and Schubert. Some composers joined, like Grieg and Schumann.

Can you still remember your first contact with Classical music?

No, I guess that this was when I was a baby and my parents listened to some CD’s.

The world of Classical Music is often described as being pretty “stuffy” and boring. What’s your point of view on this?
Well, being honest I feel the same, although the situation seems to start changing, but very slowly.

Do you have any ideas on how to make things more interesting? You have played on the same stage the same night as a rock band. Could you, for example, imagine actually playing together with them one day?

No, I don’t think that I would play together with a rock band. That would not be “my music” anymore. But I really like the idea of such a concert, half classic, half rock, or any other “modern” music. Very young people are tempted to listen to classical music. The response of our concert, even by teenagers, was very positive and encouraging.

How important is it that young people start listening to Classical Music again?
I find it pivotal. It is a part of our culture, like literature, painting and architecture. We should know about this. Classical music can evoke many things in our mind and soul and in our heart. I would never want to miss it in my life.

By Tobias Fischer

Picture by Annelies Strba

Anthology (self-released) 2003
Dark little Rooms (tokafi) 2006

Salome Scheidegger

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