Ou la liberté existera-t-elle,
si ce n’est dans la passion?
Gustave Flaubert à George Sand,
(17 novembre 1866)
The most propelling force throughout my whole life has been the question of how I can play the piano as perfectly as possible. That always came first, everything else followed.
I would have loved to have been born into a Russian-Jewish family with finger skills that had already been created in the cradle and been surrounded by excellent teachers.
I loved playing the piano in my childhood but at the same time, climbing trees, playing in the woods or painting had been equally important.
In fact I was given some natural talent, but unfortunately it was not equal. My left hand was proficient from the beginning and I hardly remember having to practice a lot. Not so with my right hand!
To play scales and other passages with my right hand seemed to be challenging for a long time.
Born with a very good ear and a precise image about how I wanted to play and interpret, I often got very upset if I wasn’t satisfied with my playing and the lack of perfection.
I realized early on, that there is a big psychological side to being a musician.
I hated that fact at first and just wanted to play with ease, and when possible, immediately!
For a very long time, nothing seemed to work to my fullest satisfaction and I read everything I possibly could find about playing the piano.
In my concerts I would change difficult passages into easier arrangements at the last minute. Sometimes I used my left hand instead.
One day, after being refused entry to a master class of a worldly known pianist, I fell running up a staircase. I was taking the steps two at a time. Within seconds, my beautiful left hand was badly damaged. I had broken my wrist and had torn ligaments. I had to have two surgeries and was stuck in a cast for nineteen weeks. It seemed that life had put the brakes on.
I have never forgotten the moment I was sitting at the piano for the first time after the accident.
All the muscles had atrophied, and I was only able to play a moderate children’s song slowly. I was very sad and felt so vulnerable. Maybe that key moment forced me to be gentler with myself for the first time.
The following years were ruled by building my left hand back up. This took approximately ten years.
I was doing everything that a pianist shouldn’t do such as: climbing extreme mountains, biking and skiing at high speeds (yes, I was born in Switzerland), crossing deserts on camels and so on. I felt that I didn’t have anything to lose.
I came across diverse piano methods, both classical and alternative. I visited some master classes and was teaching a lot.
Since I am mostly an autodidact, I did lots of reading and researched the Internet to improve. If needed, I also traveled far and wide to find somebody who could help develop my skills.
Learning is an ongoing and never ending process, I don’t feel that I’m at the end of my journey. There is always more to learn. I feel that this is a moment to share what I have learned and present it to a bigger audience.
I hope that many pianists will benefit from it.
People who have had a big impact in my life:
Thank you to Tatjana Nikolajewa and Nina Swetlanova for giving me insight into the great tradition of Russian Piano Playing.
I’m thankful to Peter Feuchtwanger. His sensitive personality and musicianship helped me get back to performing after my accident. He was the first pianist to introduce the “Caved-In Bridge” to me.
I’m thankful for having met the highly gifted pianist Dickran Atamian. His inspiration to the concept of the “Perfect Pressure” is a great benefit and has kept me very busy.
I’m thankful to my parents and to all my friends who supported and believed in me throughout the years and gave me hope when I seemed to have lost it.
I’m thankful to myself because I never gave up!
Thanks to my piano, my dearest friend. It is not only my beloved instrument but my personal metaphor for a life's journey from struggle to much more joy!