All about Music:
"A violin is a lonely voice. The word lonely evokes a great deal in human life, because a man is always left on his own, even when he is surrounded by people."
"As a young man one sees even the most terrible things in a different light. After the age of 40 a man becomes sadder; because he becomes wiser."
"I often prepare for rehearsals on board of aircrafts – I find I work better in a sealed space. There is no one to distract me and no mobile phones to ring. There is more silence. I sit there with the score and I think about what it will be like. I imagine how the music will sound, which tempo marking I will choose and how to make sure that the details do not blot out the whole, how to grasp the entire structure. I dig deep into the score, take my cue from the period when it was written, from the composer's style, from my own meager experience. Once experience is always meager – it has limits in time. It is given to us, and then we need it anew: interpretations go out of fashion, new people appear with whom one is to perform."
"A rehearsal is a meeting of people who are brooding on something. This is not something definitive, this is a search. A lot of work is required before anything appears that could commonly be described as inspiration. Work should erase the traces of work. Pushkin, I think summed up inspiration in "The Stone Guest" when he had Laura say "Yes, today my every movement, my every word came right. I willingly gave myself up to inspiration. The words flowed, as though they were born not of slavish memory but from my heart…." I think that is an astonishing way of putting it."
"I like to rehearse for performances of all sorts of different pieces at the same time. I also read several books simultaneously – it doesn't slow me down, on the contrary, it keeps my interest alive. Of course, there is a big difference between how I rehearse programs for solo recitals and for performances with an orchestra. When I am preparing on for a solo performance, I run up against my own lack of perfection. I have to work to polish various individual passages. You have to explain to an orchestra how to play something, the things to which they should pay special attention, what is principal and what is of secondary importance, and to fill the music with inner meaning. Mahler said, "After Beethoven there is no such thing as music without its own program."
An actor who goes on stage without any understanding of what an internal monologue is will hardly get very far. So it is here – sometimes I tell stories to the orchestra, sometimes I merely drop hints, which are often to be found in composers' memoirs and their correspondence. For example we would have never found out what Rachmaninov thought about his Etudes-Tableaux if the composer Ottarino Respighi had not decided to orchestra them. And it was then that Rachmaninov told him, "This here is singing in church whereas this here is a bleak shower of rain."
"My profession is that of a soldier going off to war. The most wearing time are the last 10 to 15 minutes before a concert, they are almost unbearable. You can no longer put anything right. The hall has not burned down, the public has arrived, everyone is expectant. One makes one's name and one has to take responsibility for it, To have to bear responsibility for it every time is a burden, a cross to bear. Just before the concert I feel like I am a traveler in a desert who is carrying a drop of precious water and is afraid of spilling it or losing it. A concert is a human life which elapses within the space of two hours: birth development, all the passions of which life is full, all its joys and disappointments. It is that of a fighter and a victim. Between those two fiery points there is a man in search of harmony. And the coda, the inevitable finish is in sight. If a concert has gone well, then there is a chance that it will be remembered for nine days. If it has gone very well, then it will be remembered for 40 days. If it has turned out to be unforgettable – something which happens extremely rarely – then it remains in men's memories for a long time thereby extending its own life."
"Janacek wrote a quartet entitled "Intimate Letters". That is a description that could be used for many pieces of chamber music. They are the most refined, subtle works that great composers have given us. Geniuses never produce anything insubstantial. They are great even in small scale miniatures. Performing – as well as listening – to chamber music is like re-reading correspondence with one's friends in rainy autumnal weather."
"Concerts of symphonic music are like epic paintings of battles. And every bit as fateful. Every composer is different and you need a separate key to decode each one. You need to understand his era, his style and to love him. Notes are more than just black dots on the stave. You must know everything about a composer – who his friends were, whom he loved, what was happening at the same time in the arts, which books he read. For example, editions of Shakespeare were found in Beethoven's library with annotations in his own hand. Each piece is a mystery which we strive to penetrate, yet never completely so. Every time it is something new some sort of discovery. I like to buy brand new copies of sheet music even of works I have played at some time or another in order to take a fresh look at them, as if I did not know what had gone before. I rehearse the piece as though I was doing so for the first time ever."
"Music is a universal human language"
"Everyone has something from which one can learn"
"The applause seems like an unfamiliar noise."
"I am like a splinter of wood being carried along by the current. Sometimes my life does not depend on me. There are rehearsals, there is the orchestra, there is the House of Music, the Foundation that helps gifted children. I have to find a spare moment to play my violin, to rehearse, to audition a male or female singer with whom I have to perform in a year's time. The phone is ringing all the time with calls from all over the world – there are plans to make and agree on, interviews to give. The ancient Greeks once came up with the maxim "you can never step into the same river twice". For a long time no one challenged it – it was regarded as a truism. Then the Georgian philosopher Mamardashvili asked the question, "Why, in actual fact, can you not step into it twice? And he came up with the answer: "Because we are in that river."