Pianist / Conductor / Composer  Ralf  Gothóni

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Ralf Gothóni (born May 2, 1946 in Finland, now living in Germany) has a multifaceted career as solo pianist, chamber musician and conductor throughout the world. He is known for his unconventional music-making, not just as a pianist, but as a musician with a remarkable philosophy about music and the wholeness of musicianship.

Gothóni began his studies on the violin at age three and on piano at age five. At fifteen he made his debut as an orchestra soloist and in 1967 was named “debut of the year” at the Jyväskylä Summer Festival

He has performed at the most prestigious music festivals – Salzburg, Berlin, Prague, Prades, Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, La Roque de Antheron, Ravinia, Tanglewood – and with many of the world’s leading orchestras: the Chicago Symphon, Detroit Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Japan Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra among many others. He appears regularly in concerts both as conductor and soloist, frequently conducting from the keyboard. Ralf Gothóni has premiered more than a dozen piano concertos by such noted composers as Sir John Tavener, Aulis Sallinen, C. Curtis-Smith, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Srul Irving Glick. A noted musical collaborator, he is also a frequent guest artist at the major international chamber music festivals.

Mr. Gothóni has some one hundred recordings on numerous labels, including BIS, CPO, Decca, DGG, EMI and Ondine, with whom he has produced more than twenty CDs. Of particular note are his Schubert interpretations, the piano concertos of Benjamin Britten, Villa-Lobos and Rautavaara. In recent years he has recorded several CD:s with music by Alfred Schnittke and Aulis Sallinen, both as soloist and conductor.

Ralf Gothóni was Principal Conductor of the legendary English Chamber Orchestra from 2000-09. From 2001–06 he was Music Director of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle. In 2004 he was named Guest Conductor of Deutsche Kammerakademie. He has held many other artistic postitions: Chief Conductor of the Finlandia Sinfonietta (1989–94), Principal Guest Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic (1995–2000), Artistic Director of the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival (1984–1987), Founder of the “Forbidden City Music Festival” in Beijing and its Artistic Director in 1996 and 1998, and Founder of “Musical Bridge Egypt-Finland,” a cultural collaboration between Finland and Egypt where his northern colleagues perform with Egyptian musicians. Since 2009 he has been Artistic Advisor for the Springlight Music Festival in Helsinki. He has also supported classical music in Israel and in South Africa.

Contact with young musicians is very close to his heart. He is the Artistic Chairman of “Savonlinna Music Academy,” a summer institute for chamber music, Lied and opera. He has held the position of Professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg (1986–96), the Hanns Eisler Hochschule in Berlin (1996–2000) and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki 1992–2007. In May, 2000 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music in London and in 2010, the Musikhochschule Detmold. In 2006 he became head of the piano chamber music department at the “Instituto de Musica Camara, Reina Sofia” in Madrid. Besides giving master classes around the world, he has spent many summers as a faculty member at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia in Chicago. In recent years he has served as juror at major international piano competitions.

A composer of some note, Ralf Gothóni has written three chamber operas, chamber music, songs and the chamber cantata, The Ox and its Sephard (recorded by Ondine), as well as a Concerto Grosso version of this for violin, piano and strings. This concerto was premiered in1999 with the composer as piano soloist and conductor and his wife, Elina Vähälä as violin soloist. In April 2003 his chamber orchestra arrangement of Hugo Wolf´s Italian Songbook was premiered in Stuttgart. His first book, The Creative Moment, was published with great success in 1998. A second book, Does the Moon Rotate, was published in 2001.

Mr. Gothóni has been honored with numerous awards and distinctions including the Gilmore Artist Award in 1994, one of the major awards in classical music, the Schubert Medal of the Austrian Ministry of Culture and the Order of Pro Finlandia.

--  From the California Artists Management website, June, 2011 

One of the regular stops on his itinerary is the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois, which, besides being the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is a haven for chamber music each year.  It was during his residency in June of 1995 that I was able to meet with Gothóni in a rehearsal room backstage in the small theater. 

His English was very good, though it became a bit muddled whenever his excitement and exuberance started to take hold.  I have made slight corrections to his syntax and have eliminated some of the repetitions as he hunted for just the right expressions, but what you are about to read certainly reflects what he said and how he expressed himself that afternoon.

Here is that conversation . . . . . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:    You play solo recitals, you play concertos, you accompany, you compose, you conduct.  How do you divide your time amongst all of those activities?

Ralf Gothóni:    Yes, that’s a problem.  I’m also teaching.  I have a lot of students in Europe and professional trips all the time.  It’s a big problem for a musician to try to make periods in your life so that you stay with your students for a little bit for a while.  Then comes another period with composing, because when you are composing you can’t do anything else.  It can’t be only a hobby; it must be full-time concentration on that.  Teaching is always disturbing everything, and also everything is disturbing the teaching.  [Both laugh]  It goes both ways.

BD:    But does the music cut through all of that?

RG:    Oh sure, sure.  In fact, it’s always like doing the same.  It’s always only one thing, what one is doing, because it comes from the same point of view.

BD:    Do you get enough time to compose, to rehearse, to perform?

RG:    No.  No, that’s another problem, of course.  It’s very difficult to say no to all these very interesting things that one can do when you are doing many things.  I love to play with great colleagues.  Chamber music is something what is absolutely fantastic always, and to share the time when you should rehearse your own concerto, maybe.  So it’s quite a problem.


BD:    When you get offered all these things, how do you decide what to accept and what not to accept?

RG:    No.  Yes, enough, enough.  Little by little the contracts are made because of the musical contacts with people.  The human contact is very important in music, because that’s the way how we can learn something new.  Otherwise we just stay in our position, and start to be more and more routine-oriented.  That’s a very big danger.  That’s why I very much always look forward to meet new people and play chamber music with them; of course conductors, also.

BD:    Are you a better performing musician because you are also a composer?

RG:    The composing is not the main thing.  I write music when I get the commission.  So everything that I have written has been commissioned.

BD:    Obviously, then people are interested in what you have to say!

RG:    I hope so!  [Laughs]

BD:    Are you a better composer because you are also a performer?

gothoni RG:    In the last century
until 1850, ’60, ’70all the composers were interpreters at the same time.  It was the same person.  Both things were in one person.  Then suddenly, this century separated, somehow, the whole thing and made stars of interpreterswhich is the second level of music-making.  I mean, to interpret music is just the secondary thing.  The first thing is, of course, to create it.  There are very few composers who really are able to play an instrument well nowadays, and also very few instrumentalists who are able to compose.  So that’s why it’s very important to try to find a synthesis between these things, and then notice that they both help each other.  One could say they’re both personalities in one.  Of course there have been very great musicians which have done both.  Liszt interpreted his works to an incredible degree, and the whole aspect of how he played piano with absolute power; and of course, many, many others.

BD:    When a composer is a performer, is this a synthesis, or does it make one schizophrenic?

RG:    I believe in the synthesis.  It’s a very, very important thing.  Maybe it brings our rather chic musical life a little bit forward to something more interesting and more important, and more truthful, also.

BD:    Where is music going these days?

RG:    [A bit wistfully]  There are a lot of problems with classical music now for many reasons.  First of all, it is the media around classical music.  This comes from the light-music side, and that’s a very bad thing because it makes music half so important.  It becomes something which we are using in our life.

BD:    A commodity?

RG:    Yes, instead of having it as an instrument to study what life is, in fact.  This means a rather serious contact with yourself, with everything, with the world, with your view of life, and so on.

BD:    Is the music that you play for everyone?

RG:    Oh sure, absolutely.  A great composition has all aspects of everything that can be asked to be there.  It’s just a question of how much we, I, will do to take it and understand it and give it out again as interpreters.  That’s another problem, because nowadays we musicians are also in very big conflict.  There are too many musicians in the world, and they’re very good musicians, very, very good, and the media makes a kind of level and a kind of idea how music should be made nowadays.  Everybody’s following it, sometimes even the very important instrumentalists, and that makes the music rather dead because we start to become more and more routine-oriented in one direction.  That direction, which is accepted of us, is how we are expected to play, and that’s a very dangerous thing.  That keeps the freedom of personality away from us.  We lose the freedom of telling with music some maybe interesting and not quite usual things.  We lose the not-quite-ordinary things, the not-quite-controlled things.  The routine always seems to be the first thing which is expected from us.

BD:    Is it perhaps partly the fault of the mountain of recordings
that we are listening to those and expecting every performance to be like them?

RG:    Surely, that’s one thing.  Yes, yes, and of course the competitions are also very much destroying the freedom of music-making.  So I’m very much against competition.

BD:    So the competition that you have won
the fact that you didn’t have to enter it, and you were unaware of it — that’s perhaps the ideal?

RG:    Yes, sort of.  One hopes that there will be a lot of this kind of competition, not only for pianists, but the other instruments.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    A moment ago you used the word “great.”  What is it that makes a piece of music great?

RG:    It’s very difficult to say because every musical piece is a world with different rules and a different inner life.  It’s something where we have to go inwards to find it somehow. 
That’s what makes it great.  The way there is rather narrow because it needs a lot of concentrationalso from the audienceand a lot of really serious interest for music and for your inner life.  When that happens, then it opens this musical world, and what can be heard, what can be seen there is like an inner vision.  That is the great thing.


BD:    Do you only play pieces of music that are great?

RG:    Of course, that’s my personal opinion then on that; some pieces will be greater than the other ones.

BD:    Should there be a place for lesser works at all?

RG:    For us instrumentalists, the main thing is that we can never criticize the music we are playing.  If you do that, then we fall down from the level which greets us.  So even with pieces which are not so appreciated by musicologists or critics or the audience, we have to find the ideal of the music and the reason why the music is written, and then really believe in it.  Otherwise we are not able to communicate with the music.

BD:    Is there ever a chance that you can make a piece of music greater than it is?

RG:    It’s very hard to know about the works.  Many composers said that when they have listened to their own pieces performed by some musicians, “Oh, you played something that I never knew was in my piece!”  But I think very often they are lying a little bit.  Important composers
also living important composershave the life inside himself.  He knows what he has written, and he had the vision of the enormous amount of possibilities that can happen in that piece.

BD:    How far is too far with the possibilities?

RG:    Of course you can pass the whole piece, and maybe misunderstand something.  But if the misunderstanding is done interestingly, why not?  I think it’s not so bad.  There are enough boring performances nowadays in the world.

BD:    [Laughs]

RG:    Yeah, really, that’s very true!  Somebody said
very nicely that the best concerts are important in life, but also the bad concerts are very important.  Only ones which are not important and which are dangerous are those concerts which are the middle.  So without any meaning, without something phenomenal happening, boredom will happen, and that is very bad.

BD:    You’re back to your routine again?

RG:    [Sadly]  Yeah.

BD:    So routine is really the anathema, then?

RG:    Yes.  That’s the biggest danger for all of us.  Not all things in music will be great, but for us as well as for the audience we’re making an effort.

BD:    Then let me ask the big question.  What is the purpose of music?

RG:    It may be one thing could shows the life in a bit larger surrounding than we are used to.  We can never control life.  It always depends how much we understand about life and what we have learned about it.  But music has direct contact with all those things what are somehow around and surrounding our cultural world.  When we are open for it and we maybe have the resonance with it, then we can have the contact and we start to understand.  We start to smell the life maybe in a different way.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You do a lot of accompanying, especially of singers.  What should pianists know about singing voices?

RG:    Yes, I did a lot of that, but I haven’t done it anymore in the last years.  No time; it’s very much a pity.  It’s very important for a pianist to work with singers because one of the most difficult things about singing and piano playing is the legato and breathing.  The piano mechanism seems to be rather percussion-like in character, so to get over that needs a lot of other kind of thinking
horizontal thinkingwhich comes directly from singing.  Also, singing brings the other important thing, which is that you feel the music with your body, not only with the fingers and brain.  It’s kind of a wholeness which is playing in yourself and not just some part of it.  When one is a talented singer, he or she sings automatically correctly, like small children.  They use their whole body.  The whole system is singing, not only the throat.

BD:    Can we not get pianists to use more of their body than just the fingers?


RG:    Yes, sure.  We should.  As pianists, we should use more of it, but it is a question of not learning it.  It’s not very easy because the instrument is outside.  Singing is much easier because you have the instrument inside yourself, so it’s easier to find.

BD:    [Laughs]  Sure, but there’s more danger of things going wrong.

RG:    Yes, sure, sure.  Of course, there are.

BD:    A pianist can always blame the thing in front of him.  [Both laugh]

RG:    Yes, yes.

BD:    Is it more difficult to balance a piano quartet than it is to balance a vocal solo recital?

RG:    Oh, it’s different.  It is a completely different aspect of music-making.  To play an instrument in chamber music, the music is mostly abstract, but to make a lieder recital, that’s a synthesis between text and music, between consciousness and unconsciousness.  That makes lieder chamber music so very interesting.  You have to be open in your mind for everything that is unknown, and at the same time you must control that thing what is known through the text to make a living, very interesting world.  For example, Wolf songs are unique in music because they are full of psychological synthesis between music and poems.

BD:    So it’s imperative, then, that the pianist understand the texts almost as well as the singer?

RG:    Of course.

BD:    Are there ever times when the music comes in conflict with the text?

RG:    Oh, sure!  Wolf he was absolute genius composer to open that, to give more possibilities to the text with the music, but in Brahms songs there are a lot of conflicts.  Brahms didn’t care so much about what he wrote to the text.  He had more symphonic ideas, and he just used those texts to get his symphonic ideas in smaller format.  Of course the music is great, but it’s a completely different kind than Wolf, whereas Schumann is closer to Wolf than Brahms.

BD:    What advice do you have for someone who wants to compose songs today?

RG:    The first thing is this very dynamic balance between text and music, so it must be there.  There must be a reason to make music to poems.  There must be musical reason, but also the music must have the reason from the poems why it has to be there.  So that’s the first thing.  The other thing is that the collaboration between the singer and the pianist
— between the singing part and the piano partshould be also in dynamic balance.  They are both as important so that they can communicate and make the same kind of synthesislike the text and music.  The third thing is it must be sing-able.  That’s a very problematic thing nowadays, with our modern new music, because rather many composers forget how one sings.

BD:    Should they take some voice lessons?

RG:    Maybe; maybe little bit.  The piano is too often used like a percussion instrument in songs.

BD:    Do you ever play any music where you have to get into the guts of the piano?

RG:    No, I don’t like that.  Of course I have done it in my youth especially.  I was very interested about new pieces, and played lot of first performances.  But then it started to be boring to me because it was the same.  This was a kind of mannerism, to go inside the piano and start playing there.  Why?  It doesn’t sound so well, and it destroys the strings.  If you work with the strings in a piano, after a couple of concerts with that kind of thing the organizer has to buy new strings in the piano.  [Both laugh]  No, no, it’s really dangerous for the piano to do this those kinds of things.

BD:    Should we commission Steinway to make a piano specifically for this kind of special manipulation?

RG:    Exactly, yes, or use old pianos which are already completely out of...  [Both laugh].

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Do you change your pianistic technique at all when you play for a small house, or in a great big house?

RG:    I hope so.  In a bigger house, when you feel that the acoustic brings the sound back to you, then you have the feeling that it’s like swimming on the water.  You feel that you can play incredibly soft and also very sensitively.  But if the hall is like many halls, they don’t give you anything; they just take everything of you out, so then you must play like a percussionist just to be heard over the orchestra.  The hall is a very important thing, because it’s a resonating thing, and that is what you are working with.  The first resonating thing is the piano, but then the next thing is the hall.

BD:    When you come to a new piano, how long is it before you can make that piano your own?

gothoni RG:    Oh, it depends.  Every pianist has a kind of character of the instrument which he likes mostly.  It also depends a little bit on pieces.  For Brahms, one needs a rather heavier character of the piano because it’s easier to play Brahms with resistance than without it.  Then, of course, Mozart or Schubert are very much with a light character on the action.  Then I like very much a rather soft tone, soft intonation, to be able to work with the piano.  If the intonation is very hard, very stoney, you can’t play anything because everything is coming too directly out of.  That makes you feel very intense.  But when the piano is softer, then you can do more.

BD:    Does it ever affect your choice of repertoire if you know what piano you’re going to be using?

RG:    Oh yes.  If I remember some hall, or for some reason that there is a very bad piano
or a very good piano — that’s an influence.

BD:    How is the standard of piano upkeep these days all over the world?

RG:    It’s very different, I must tell.  Sorry to say about the United States, it’s not very good.

BD:    [Diasppointed]  Hmmm...

RG:    It’s very funny, because you’ve got a lot of money.

BD:    And we have lots of technicians, too.  [See my Interview with Franz Mohr, Chief Concert Technician for Steinway & Sons from 1968-92.]

RG:    Yes, and still the instruments are very often in really quite a bad condition.  Also, there are some rather bad instruments in important halls.  In Japan, for example, they have incredible instruments, and they are always in absolute perfect condition.  The Japanese technicians are really great in their working.

BD:    Are these European pianos or Japanese pianos?

RG:    Yamahas, yes.  I think the latest model, the so-called laboratory model of the Yamaha grand piano is one of the best pianos nowadays.  They are kept in good condition, so they are really nice to play.  In Germany, of course, in the main concert halls they always have a good pianos... but not necessarily always.  The level is changing all throughout Germany.  In Finland, which my home country, in the last thirty or thirty-five years there are at least fifty or sixty new concert Steinways and Bösendorfers in all the concert halls, and they are in very good condition.  So it’s really nice to go around to play them.

BD:    Would you ever think of traveling with your own technician?

RG:    No.  No, no, no.  One has to take the piano how it is.  To start to travel with instruments is very complicated, and very often it doesn’t help at all because the transports are not very healthy for the instrument.  I did it in the beginning of eighties
fifteen years agoso I got used to getting the Bösendorfer where I played in Europe.  But it was always very problematic, because very often it came just before the concert, so the rehearsals were with other instruments, completely different instruments than for the concerts.  So I stopped doing that.

BD:    What instrument do you play at home?

RG:    I have a Bösendorfer.

BD:    What is the major difference between the Steinway touch and the Bösendorfer touch?

RG:    It’s very difficult to say because the main thing is that every instrument is a personality, and it’s important it’s kept well.  That’s the first thing, because if nobody is really working with the action regularly, every instrument gets in horrible condition independent which company it’s made by.  One difference in Boesendorfer is the action is a bit slower than any other
Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, and Fazioli.  But the good Bösendorfer can have a very beautiful voice and sound, rich bass, and singing middle.  So it can be really a great joy to play.

BD:    Do you use the extra keys down at the bottom?

RG:    No... yeah, maybe.  They are not necessary.  In some Liszt, the E flat major Concerto, for example, you would use it.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Do you play the same for a microphone as you do in the concert hall?

gothoni RG:    No.  No, it’s very often interesting to notice that those aspects you feel are important in a concert hall do not come through on recordings, because the recording is just for the ear and the concert is for everything, for eyes and ear.  So when we talk about the wholeness of our music-making
that the whole body should make the music and feel the musicthat belongs to the stage.  But the consciousness of musical lines, musical rhythms, harmonies, what is happening, the structure, the full control of our musical laws, they belong to the recording.  The interpretation is always the main thing, of course.  The technical control is the problem of the producer.

BD:    Are you pleased with your recordings that are out?

RG:    Which I have made?  Never, never!  I listen once to them, and then never more!  Or perhaps after ten years, when you have forgotten that you were playing!

BD:    Does it please you if someone comes up and says, “I love your most recent recording”?

RG:    Oh sure, of course.  I am pleased with some of them, but not in that meaning that I would be completely happy.  I hope that I still could learn something and get them better.

BD:    What advice do you have for audiences that come to piano recitals?

RG:    [Thinks for a moment]  A recital should be like a drama.  Many kinds of things should happen, not only three or four different sonatas without any connection with each other.  The program should be planned in a way that it’s also a wholeness.  The pieces should somehow belong together and have some reason to be together in the program.  Also that they lead to each other in some interesting or important way.  If it’s so, then one hopes that the audience would notice and also understand that because of these kind of connections.  It’s possible to play some pieces differently than what you would do without the background of another piece.  That’s the way I feel about these things.  To take a Schubert sonata, for example, to put it together with a Beethoven sonata you would play differently than if you put it together with a Liszt sonata because the context is different, so you have changed yourself.  You have worked differently before the Schubert sonata, so your world is completely different and then you find different aspects.

BD:    Yet when you work on it in the studio, you only rehearse the piece as a piece without any knowledge of what goes before or after.

RG:    Yes exactly.  Exactly.

BD:    When you’re playing a concerto, how much of the responsibility is the conductor, and how much is the responsibility of the soloist?

RG:    Both have the exact same responsibility.  To play concertos, it’s like making chamber music, so there’s no difference.  Also, every musician in the orchestra is making exactly as important an impact, though it’s more being just musically accurate.  We are used to always taking one person and putting them somehow very high, and tell everyone that he or she is the star.  This is a bit stupid because it’s so narrow a view of music.  Then you forget everything else that is around what we have choose to be important.  We should learn to hear at least two things at the same time.  Usually we have only to concentrate on one thing.  Our brain is like that; it’s functioning in one way, like with computers.  So it’s only working on one thing at one time
quickly of coursebut only one thing.  The problem is to separate things so that you are able to create, to understand and hear what is going on in the contrapuntual level of music-making.  Every musician who is playing fugues, for example, should know how incredibly difficult it is to play a three-voice fugue.  Your inner life is doing the whole gamut of these voices separatelynot listening to just one lineand you automatically change your attention from one voice to the others.

BD:    Is this part of your advice to young pianists coming along?

RG:    I teach only chamber music, so I don’t teach any piano.  I try to give understanding on the wholeness of music, and the very large background of what one has to experience in his or her inner life.  All of this is to be able to be part of an important piece of music.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You are now in your fiftieth year.  Are you at the point in your career that you want to be at this age?

RG:    I don’t know what you mean by career, unless you mean what I’m doing in the world, running from one place to other and this kind of thing.  No, it’s not so important.  I mean, it’s rather boring.  I don’t like traveling so very much.  I like to come to new places, to meet new people, but not because of having something for my career, but to have the communication with music.  That’s still what is important for me.  I hope to stay somehow young and still believe in that.

BD:    So you’d rather go to one place and stay for a while, and then go to another place and stay for a while?

gothoni RG:    No, no, no.  There are tours, especially here in the United States now, so you have to travel every second day, and play again the next day.  But it’s very hard, and it is also very dangerous because this kind of life makes it very easily to become routine.  You have to keep yourself in condition, and then keeping your mind working perfectly means that you must be sure about what you are doing during the tour with your music.  And to be sure about what you are doing makes what you are doing very often the same twice and the third time and the fourth time also.  Then little by little you fall down in a kind of rut.  [Laughs]

BD:    You go back to routine again.

RG:    Yes.

BD:    [Naïvely trying to be helpful]  Can’t you tell your agent not to schedule quite as many concerts?

RG:    [Laughs]  Yes, of course.  But concerts are a very important thing for us.  That’s the place where we are learning and studying, and rehearsing, one could say.  It’s very easy to notice that kind of chemistry.  For example, today we play the Brahms G Minor Quartet.  The rehearsals, of course, are important, but the first real rehearsal is the first concert you do together with new people.  Then you notice who you are, because everybody is really telling the most.  Everybody’s giving what they are able to, so the communication starts in that point.

BD:    So the second performance, then, would be better?

RG:    Would be, maybe, or worse.  [Both laugh]  Who knows?  It might be possible.

BD:    When you’re working on a piece and rehearsing it, do you do all of your work there, or do you leave something as a spark for the evening?

RG:    Oh, of course.  I hope that it will always be like that.  It’s kind of going to walk in a very, very big forest.  You walk there and make some path around, and so you learn to find yourself back, if necessary.  But when the concert starts, then in fact you always take a completely new path.  But still, you are not lost because you know already about the forest
what is inside, what can be expected of the journey.

BD:    Is playing piano fun?

RG:    Oh, sure.  Of course.  But it’s not only fun.  It’s a very hard job, and it’s very serious thing, to have that kind of challenging instrument.

BD:    Is it too challenging?

RG:    I hope not.

BD:    Do you ever play any of the other keyboards
the fortepiano or the harpsichord, or anything else besides just the modern piano?

RG:    I have tried, yes, but just very little because it’s very dangerous to try.  The fortepiano is fascinating instrument.

BD:    It’s a completely different touch.

RG:    Yes, and if you start really to play that instrument, suddenly you are sitting at the instrument and then you really want to work on it.  That’s why it’s very dangerous, because you can’t have two loves at the same time.  [Both laugh]  Of course you can, but that’s another matter...

BD:    Thank you for spending some time with me today, and thank you for coming back to Ravinia.

RG:    Thank you very much.


© 1995 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded in a rehearsal room backstage at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL, on June 30, 1995.  Segments were used (with recordings) on WNIB the following year, and on WNUR in 2003.  The transcription was made and posted on this website in 2014.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.

Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.