Veronika Hagen

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Hagen Quartet’s viola player on the challenges of quartet life

Accept your colleagues as they are and work on yourself instead

Great musicians dispel their own ego and give themselves up completely to the composer in order to recreate his music.

Every member of a quartet must be prepared to listen. They must also be curious, disciplined and have a sense of humour.

How players get on with one other is the greatest challenge for a quartet. One needs to learn both how to criticise and how to react to criticism oneself.

Almost all music is chamber music – even a solo sonata – because it is a constant exchange of voices and instruments.

I always look forward to going on stage. I imagine the expectation of the people in the audience, who are prepared to leave their everyday life for a while to experience something special. I am very touched that I am able to move something in them.

With teaching it is very important to decide whether or not, in addition to passing on technical and artistic skills, one also wants to be a psychotherapist.

People’s preconceptions of the viola have changed a lot in the past twenty or thirty years. Thanks to some magnificent performers, it has freed itself from a Cinderella-like existence. Anyone who doubts this cannot be taken seriously.  

The members of a quartet must have respect for one other – accept your colleagues as they are and work on yourself instead.

Photo: Regina Recht

Originally published in The Strad, January 2011. Download the digital edition of the issue or subscribe to it as part of our 30-day free trial.

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