ALL EARS ON: Aleksey Igudesman | Vienna 2020. Capital of Music

ALL EARS ON: Aleksey Igudesman | Vienna 2020. Capital of Music


Beethoven really had
an incredible diversity. A critic of the time
actually said about Beethoven: “He seems to harbour
in himself doves and crocodiles.” So basically, you really have
the most beautiful, divine sounds that come from Beethoven’s music. And you have
the most sardonic, crazy and bitter and spiteful music as well. The plethora of human emotions in a way
– that’s Beethoven for me. At the same time, the most spontaneous and the most calculated musician. You’re never bored
when listening to Beethoven. You know, Beethoven was
the first guy who stood up and said: “The artist is number one.” The amazing thing about Vienna is
that they listened to him back then and they keep on
listening to him till this day. I don’t think there is
a single city in the world where the artists are
as respected as they are in Vienna. That is really partly
very much thanks to Beethoven. Actually people from Vienna
gathered money in order to pay Beethoven to stay. That’s how much they loved Beethoven,
how much they respected his music and how much they want
great music to be in their city. That is incredible history actually. Vienna basically has welcomed musicians and welcomed entrepreneur musicians since Beethoven’s time. He had apparently over 50 homes and he moved over 60 times within Vienna. That’s why you have
so many Beethoven houses. He lived here and there. Basically, any person can claim: “Oh, Beethoven lived in my house!” because he basically lived everywhere. Beethoven had very strong ties
to the concert houses at the time, for example Theater an der Wien,
the place where Beethoven had his Fidelio performed for the very first time. Of course, in some ways
the most genius work may be his Fifth… So, this motive, just these four notes, what he does within a movement, it’s more than genius in a way because it’s like someone
teaching you how to write music. At the same time,
it sounds completely natural. Of course, I myself,
I love taking pieces of music by some great composers
that I love and transforming them. I’m taking the Fifth of Beethoven and I’m turning it into Five. Five meaning it’s in 5/4, which means the beat is five. This work I am recording with my dearest, oldest friend actually, Julian Rachlin,
who I studied with in Vienna. So basically, this piece
I called “Beethoven Takes Five”. I came to Vienna
the first time when I was six. We lived here for half a year because Vienna welcomed us people moving away from
Russia of Jewish origin. So, Vienna was a transition for us. That’s when I met
Julian Rachlin for the first time. Julian’s father said: “Come to Vienna, there’s
an amazing violin professor in Vienna. His name is Boris Kuschnir.” So, I came to Kuschnir
and I studied with him at the Music and Arts University in 1989. Vienna has so many
incredible places to play, from the quaintest beautiful
jazz bar like Porgy and Bess to incredible concert halls
like Musikverein where you hear
the New Year’s Concert every year and the Konzerthaus
which is like my personal home, it’s like my backyard. This is where I hang out. Vienna gives musicians
the space to have an imagination, to be more than just a simple musician. For example, I have a startup
called Music Traveler. With this online platform or app you can book a room
with a piano to play in anytime. For example, if you want to go
and play on a beautiful Steinway, you can simply go on Music Traveler, just click and you can be
in a beautiful home in Vienna. The city of Vienna actually supports us. You have one of
the leading string makers – in my opinion, actually
the greatest string makers – Thomastik Infeld. They just celebrated 100 years. In the Beethoven year, they are celebrating 50 years
of the Dominant strings. The piano maker Bösendorfer
is originally from Vienna. You have such an active
music scene in Vienna. You have the performers
who perform there, musicians who are studying there, you have the string makers,
the violin makers, the piano makers. All these different components
fit together beautifully. You have extraordinary musicians who come here and make this their home in order to do something they couldn’t do
anywhere else in the world. That is Vienna for me.

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