The Hungarian virtuoso tells us of beginnings, favourite pieces and the joys of playing in the UK.
What’s it been like coming to play in the UK for the first time?
It has been a dream from my childhood to perform in the UK, as well as ins other European countries. UK carries a special weight on my agenda as I have been traveling and touring for 15 years so far in Asia and America without coming here. Europe, and especially UK stands for European tradition and culture on a way it has to be represented. People understand classical music and European tradition here. Having played at Carnegie Hall a few times among other important venues, I am very exited for this opportunity to play in Oxford.
Do you remember the first time you played piano?
Yes and no at the same time. I surely remember the first memories when my dad came home from work and played the piano tol all of us (I have a brother), we loved it. He was my inspiration to start to play. He never pushed or forced to do it, regardless of the fact that he is an engineer, he played brilliantly. Of course we listened the Beatles vinyls and knew all the songs before I even played a note at the age of 4.
What is your favourite piece to play?
Interesting as it is, I mostly like to just sit down and improvise and play freely. I love Chopin and Liszt, as I think they speak the same musical language as I do, also people understand them very well today. This is why I program their pieces on my concert, and I also improvise a lot. I love Chopin ballade in g minor, Liszt Hungarian Rgapsody No. 2 and La Campanella. The sonata in b minor takes everything, but it does need a good player to play or an educated listener to at least appreciate the efforts. Or sometimes both.
You seem to have done everything from football to piano to motivational speeches, how do you fit it all in?
I think balance is the most important. We need to be passionate about what we are doing and the never ending interest of wanting to be better every day is fundamental. I love whatever do do, let it be a day biking in my race bike, playing a football game with my teammates, practicing the piano, or just traveling on a concert tour and sharing my music. I love to dive into something and forgetting about everything else, and then turn to completely something else and do the same.
What is next for you after your shows in the UK?
I straight fly to New York to play fundraiser concerts to benefit the Adam Gyorgy Foundation. Supporting young talents is an important part of my life at this point. I believe that if you are good in what you are doing you still need support to carry on and master it and be one of the best. The foundation stands for investing into talent. I land in Southeast Asia still in November playing in Singapore, Jakarta and Tokyo as well. My final destination is Bali this year where I host a master class session supported by the Adam Gyorgy Foundation and MS Works in December. This is a continuation of my summer program in Hungary, the Adam Gyorgy Casltle Academy which is going on for seven years now.
What can we expect from your shows?
It will be a very different experience. I can’t emphasize enough how many of my fellow classical musicians do everything to make people stay at away from concerts lately. I always thought differently about the entire experience. I take a look at the piano as a channeling instrument, which is beautifully capable of transmitting emotions and telling stories. It’s not about the repertoire but the experience, that’s beyond everything. It’s about the journey we take with the audience. I am not shy to program a half an hour improvisation in the middle of the concert which has little to do with classical music, and then get back to the most difficult repertoire such as Franz Liszt’s La Campanella, or the sonata in b minor. I couldn’t care less for these old conventions and I couldn’t care more for the journey which we take with the audience. I usually have a young crowd on my concerts beyond the regular concert goers, I am sure this is the right way to think about a concert experience. I am certainly most excited to play in Oxford. I can’t wait to share my music and probably learn something at the same time.