Preludia - Unofficial website for Rafal Blechacz


Jul 9, 2011

Rafał Blechacz meets people of Bydgoszcz at his alma mater (3)

Continuing from the previous post;
Rafal Blechacz's interview at his alma mater in Bydgoszcz on June 30.

Original interview from Gazeta Torun (Polish)

audio file of the interview (audio)

Blechacz: I don’t endure flying in airplanes
Written by Joanna Lach

He likes eating at gas stations, listening to music in the car and cannot wait for 2013. Rafał Blechacz, the winner of the Chopin Competition six years ago, met with fans on the occasion of his 26th birthday.

Blechacz, celebrating his birthday on June 30, met with fans at the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz for over an hour answering their questions. Here's what he said:

Rector Prof. Maria Murawska welcomes him
Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music
(from bydgoszcz

How did you spend the last six years after the competition?

- Rafał Blechacz: In fact, the first year was the key. It was hard because I could not freely plan the calendar. New proposals of concerts came all the time and it seemed to me that I had to play them all.

Should it be refused?

- It should be chosen. I had so many proposals that frankly speaking I would not give advice to play everywhere. I realized this when I played in Japan first in January, returned to Europe for tour in February, and in March I had to fly to America for concerts (sic). Another pain for me was to announce recital and concert programs very far in advance. Nowadays I plan my concert calendar differently and I know that I should do it several years in advance.

When recording the latest album you had collaboration with Jerzy Semkow. Did you have dispute over the interpretation of works that you performed?

- No. Half a year before the recording we had several meetings beside the piano, during which we discussed the common interpretation of the concertos in detail. I thought that he would be an ideal accompanist and I was not wrong. The recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam was held in an atmosphere conducive to the common music-making. I played Chopin's two piano concertos, each lasting for dozens of minutes. That peace of mind was then necessary for me. Anyway, Jerzy Semkow gave me the complete freedom to perform, which is especially important for the soloist in Chopin's music.

A few days ago in Copenhagen, you played a work by Karol Szymanowski. How did the audience respond?

- They liked it, especially the members of my fan club from Japan who follow my recitals throughout the world. I got a standing ovation. I feel very well exactly when I’m with his music. Therefore, I played his first piano sonata in Copenhagen. So now I have a plan to play Szymanowski a little more often.

In your concerts we can often hear Debussy too.

- This repertoire is associated with my new album. It will contain exactly these two composers’ works. The album is ready and was recorded with the Deutsche Grammophon label. It is to be released in February next year.

With whom do you consult about your choice of repertoire?

introducing his family from US
(from bydgoszcz
- Chopin Competition gave me many opportunities to meet outstanding artists. Conversations with them had an enormous impact on me. Krystian Zimerman is a very important person for me. We often talk on the phone and he always looks after me with advice and help. We also meet during our tours. I also had opportunities to meet with Mauricio Pollini [the winner of the Chopin Competition of 1960] and the Italian pianist Maria Tipo, with whom I worked quite intensively on the works of Bach and Debussy. Conversations with them were extremely inspiring. For artists, who stand at the entrance of a career, it is very valuable to have such a support from time to time.

Because the artist usually works in solitude?

- Solitude is probably imprinted in musician’s life. When preparing a new repertoire, I am alone with the instrument, the composer and with his thoughts. It is necessary to shape interpretation, as well as interviews with other artists. I compensate for the solitude during travelling, when I meet many interesting people.

Which do you prefer, travelling by car or airplane?

Travelling by air is burdensome. It happened sometimes, that my luggage got lost. Noise and crowd at the airport annoy me. I feel more independent when I’m driving. Actually I like driving very much. I always listen to some music along the way, and sometimes philosophical lectures, which I recorded on CDs. Nothing limits me and I take a break at any time during the journey. For example, at a gas station where I must feed not only the car but also myself.

Do you have time to explore the city you visit?

- Unfortunately, I rarely stay in one place longer than one day. But I had such an opportunity before the concert in San Francisco. A group of people who were at my previous concert suggested me to show the town. And although I can count such situations on my toes [maybe going out incognito] on one hand, it's always very nice to remember them.

How do you reconcile the study of philosophy at UMK (Nicolaus Copernicus University) in Torun with the busy concert calendar?

- I study on an individual basis, so I can deal with it.

(from bydgoszcz
Where did your interest in philosophy come from?

- When I was still in the secondary school, my Polish teacher presented us with philosophical trait of individual eras, which intrigued me a lot. When the confusion in relation to the Chopin Competition subsided, I decided to develop my interest. I wanted to systematize my knowledge of philosophy. First of all the philosophy of music aroused my interest. Is it possible to play Bach romantically? What are the limits of interpretation of musical works? What is a public concert in view of philosophical understanding? Analyzing these issues very much enriches me as an interpreter. It also allows me to discuss with such people as philosopher, Fr. Prof. Andrzej Szostek, Prof. Władysław Stróżewski or musicologist and music journalist Adam Rozlach.

Between studying and playing concerts, did you find time to follow the latest Chopin Competition?

- Honestly speaking, not really. I had ten concerts in those days in Japan and I was deeply engaged. In addition, the time difference prevented me from keeping track of the competition. But of course I know who won it! The information came to me, although I had no time to watch the struggles by pianists.

Daniel Stabrawa, 1st concertmaster
(from Berlin Philharmonic website)
What repertoire are you preparing for concerts now?

- Chamber music. It's another thing I really want to have a try, and have not had an opportunity yet. So now I cannot wait for 2013, when I’ll play, among others, in the company of Daniel Stabrawa, a concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. We plan to perform works by Mozart and Szymanowski. Next season is devoted to Liszt. In September I will play his piano concerto in Brussels.

A deep appreciation to Konstancja for helping me when I was short of time and when I'm in difficult time.


  1. Blechacz will give an concert coming April in Stuttgart with the following programm.

    Bach: Partita Nr. 3 a-minor BWV 827
    Beethoven: Sonate Nr. 7 D-major op.10/ 3
    Debussy: Suite bergamasque
    Szymanowski: Sonate for piano Nr.1 c-minor op. 8

    The D-major sonate by Beethoven, especially the second so touching and romantic. I can imagine how Blechacz'd interpritate it.

  2. Yes, it will be on April 27 and at Beethovensaal, one of Blechacz's favorite halls with a favorite instrument, if I remember it. I Are you going to the recital? If so, I envy you. I really want to hear his Beethoven.


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