A fairy-tale

Once upon a time a long long time ago, there was a small boy whose parents had a small brown Kreuzbach grand piano standing in their living room.

Even as a very young child he was always out to discover new things that this fascinating world has to offer. At about the age of three his greatest love was for this tantalising brown object with which one could produce an exceptional variety of different tones. These ranged from the piano of a single note to the tone clusters that could be produced by a heavy bang of the fist.

Soon the little boy sat at this grand piano for hours on end and mishandled it an indescribable manner. At least his tone compositions at that time did have some resemblance to those of Schoenberg and Stockhausen. There were also elements of Xenakis‘ music to be heard.

However, one can imagine how this type of music heard repeatedly over a long period of time did nothing to comfort the aspirations of the parents. So in due course, they attempted to trick the little boy and said, " The piano is so tired now and wants to have a wee sleep:" Now the little boy, who was nearly always a good little boy and did what he was told, climbed off the piano stool which was much too high for him, so he could carefully close the lid over the keys and let the piano take it‘s well-earned rest. Usually he allowed the instrument a short spell of about five to ten seconds, then immediately climbed back onto the stool uttering the words "Pay pano"!" (meaning play piano), grabbed the lid, opened it and began to beckon further dreadful noises from the instrument.

This phase continued - more or less constantly– until he was in his sixth year and to be exact, until a few months before his sixth birthday. To put an end to this dilemma, his parents went to him and asked whether this activity which he obviously enjoyed so much, should not be given a formal basis. In other words they offered him piano lessons. The boy was overjoyed and began his first lessons in the spring of 1979.

Now the story could have taken the natural course of a pianist, if a few years later it had not been for a significant experience in the boy‘s life. One day while he was spending New Year’s Eve with his grandmother in Bamberg, she took him to the traditional New Year’s Concert with the Bamberg Philharmonic Orchestra where every year Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is played. At first the young boy could not understand why, amidst the many active musicians, there were four people who appeared not to be involved in making the concert a success. However in the final movement he realised they were the soloists. But what was of much more interest to him was the conductor. All the boy’s attention was directed towards his wild waving, his poses and gesticulations which seemed to impress both the audience and the orchestra. Maybe it was the richness of tones in the final movement, maybe the incredible power the conductor had over the orchestra, maybe too, the honour which he shared with the soloists, orchestra and choir at the end is what impressed the young boy. At least he showered them with fenzied applause and later on the phone to his mother he told her it was "great stuff". The young boy decided to become a conductor.

The parents who were by the way both singers, supported the decision. Initially other instruments had to be learned and it seemed the violin was a natural first choice and then, in order to have learned a wind instrument he was instructed in playing the horn.

Time passed and the young boy grew. Then as a seventeen year old he was accepted as a young student in the conducting department at the Academy of Music in Wurzburg. Two years later, after receiving his university entrance examination he was accepted as a full-time student and the story could have taken the normal course of a conductor if it hadn’t been for another experience in the life of this young musician. And of course, once again the piano was to blame.

Despite his studies as a conductor, a hornist and a violinist he had never forgotten or even neglected his beloved piano. On the contrary, his studies produced results and he was a successful candidate at youth competitions, performed at concerts and continued to develop.

Then the time came when, in the spring of 1997 he was to take part in his first international piano competition. The competition had three rounds and the young boy, so as not waste unnecessary time and save expenses had, in foresight, booked his return flight before the beginning of the final round.

The first round went well and he felt satisfied. Nonetheless he looked for his name on the bottom of the lists which were ordered according to point ratings but to his amazement he could not find it until his eyes wandered further and further up the lists where to his astonishment, he found his name in third place. Evenso he was still certain that he would never make the final round and accepted the fact. He was happy with the result and in the second round played without inhibitions just the way he wanted to. And then, something which he not intended and had never imagined possible became a reality.

The next day the young boy had to change his ticket booking and look for a hotel room.....

Then having decided for the meantime at least, not to continue with his conducting career he registered as a student at a different academy for piano studies, so as to devote himself solely to his career as a pianist.

And from here the story can take it‘s natural course!

(Erik Reischl, Translation Elisabeth Ann Krüger)