Patricia Kopatchinskaja is a very talented Moldovan-Austrian violinist who began playing the instrument at the early age of 6 years old. With both of her parent being professional musicians, Patricia followed suit and start performing various gigs by the age of 13. After having private lessons for years, she enrolled in the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and continued her studies in Bern at the Musikhochschule. In her career she has played with many major orchestras such as: The Vienna, Berlin and London Philharmonic. Patricia has also networked herself with many top notch ensembles and has performed all over the world in the finest venues. I recently asked Patricia a few questions about her thriving musical career.
R.V.B. - Can you briefly describe some of the instructors that you had in your learning years and how they may have shaped your career in playing the violin? How did you enjoy your years of study at University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and Musikhochschule in Bern?
P.K. - When I was 13 I studied with Dora Schwarzberg - my first teacher in Vienna. She plays the violin fantastically well, so I learned by ear, just listening to her playing, absorbing her spirit through sounds and her positive and encouraging energy. Later on I had lessons with Boris Kuschnir who dedicated himself fully to an impeccable violin technique and complete self-control during the concert. Working on every part of every note was a most disciplined time. At that time I also studied composition and practiced at least 6 hours per day. Evgenia Tchougaeva taught me in the most musical and imaginative way. She never spoke about technique, it was always about what I want to say with a piece. Every technical issue was resolved by understanding the inner sense of the music. My last teacher was Igor Ozim in Bern who concentrated me on an analytical, practical, solid and helpful way; self-thinking and self-resolving any problem. He was supportive and let me be myself and do everything in the best possible way.
R.V.B. - When you finished your training and schooling, how did you transition into the professional world? Did you have one project or start with a variety of opportunities?
P.K. - There was never a transition, I always worked during my studies. Since our emigration, starting at the age of 13 I had to earn money everywhere I could find a job as a musician. I started to play the piano in a restaurant when my father was called to perform Kodaly’s "Hary Janos“ with the orchestras at the Musikverein. I even played for a whole summer in a registry office for marriages on an electric organ. I busked on the street, and I played masses in almost all of the Viennese churches. I played at birthdays or for my composition - collegues at the academy. I played a lot of modern music of the second Viennese school in "Ensemble des 20 Jahrhunderts“. In the end I played some competitions, won and used the money to continue with the violin, because according to a teacher of mine, to try to earn money as a composer would be like trying to sell umbrellas in the Sahara!
R.V.B. - What are some of the classic composers music that you enjoy performing?
P.K. - When I find significance in a piece, when I find that I can serve that piece, I play it. It doesn’t matter what or where. It is not crucial with whom. I am always looking for the musical partners, from whom I can learn something. I am not looking for "comfortable“ partners. I think I even have the tendency to play with extremely demanding people - something which gives me the important impulse to develop and enlarge my imagination.
P.K. - Its the best of the best to work with a composer. During the time of writing I try to give only very few, or better still, no suggestions, because composers know very well what they want. My task is to make it possible, to search for ways of interpretation, not to correct the piece for my convenience.
R.V.B. - Are there any differences in approach when you work with various conductors and orchestras in different countries in Europe or around the world?
P.L. - The differences in conductor is very important. With some i play more disciplined, with some i play very free. It’s like a relationship - one behaves differently with different people. A piece of music has an infinite variety of expression. I am interested in exploring many new ways, not only to find one and call it "the right one“ and therefore make an institution out of it. I like to collaborate from the beginning, be as flexible as possible, and listen to everything. I'm always happy to learn from interesting artists.
R.V.B. - What are some of your most memorable performances up to this point... acoustically and general vibe?
P.K. - Every performance is memorable… a part of my life-puzzle. It makes little difference to me the ‘importance' of a hall, its image and whether I am on a concert platform or in the street - it always about music and not about me.
R.V.B. - What will your tasks be at 2020 OJAI Festival? Is this a performing or non-performing task?
P.K. - I am extremely keen to programme concerts and I am curious about oblique juxtapositions within programming. It’s important to keep perceptions fresh otherwise things can, in my opinion, become dangerously dull. I will also hold my antenna as far and as wide as possible in the coming years. As well as programming it is actually also a performing task. One starts to perform as soon one puts a piece on stage, by playing or programming. Starting from the Big Bang, the whole of life is performed by God’s cells - including us.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Patricia Kopatchinskaja visit her website. www.patriciakopatchinskaja.com
Special thanks to Samantha Holderness
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