Hartmut Rohde

Thursday, 06 February 2014

The violist and pedagogue on what he would tell his younger self

In concert life, I have learnt to take more risks and become 101 per cent confident in exaggeration (rather than 99 per cent)

Not having been a wunderkind at a young age, I have always had to combine intuition with analytical work. Now that I am older, and a teacher, I have more confidence in dealing with this dual relationship, and each year I enjoy the growth of finding depth in musical oeuvres based on these two columns.

Music as a rhetorical language has always interested me from the beginning, starting with the old Roman ‘speech’ and developing into the pre-Baroque musical language. Having had teachers who have always inspired me to do my research, and seek different styles alongside the other arts, I have been developing my curiosity: being an artist first and an instrumentalist second.

In concert life, I have learnt to take more risks and become 101 per cent confident in exaggeration (rather than 99 per cent). When I started my concert career, I began to trust in my technique and let the inner voice of the piece come out as if I were submerged in it. Looking back, I would say (and I recommend this to my students) that every etude or little isolated technique has to be played with free and full emotion.

As a small point of interest, I would also tell my younger self to learn singing, to listen very attentively to operas, and to be interested in different languages and the lives that they represent. Once you experience how a piece represents your own life, you might feel deeply touched, and this will come across in the performance. As life continues, this becomes more and more fulfilling – just give yourself time for it to happen.

Hartmut Rohde is patron of Berlin’s ‘Viola: Instrument of the Year’ event.

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