10 ene. 2013

Kreusch Interview II

             Johannes Tonio Kreusch
New ideas for classical guitar (II)

Fernando Bartolomé for MGE

In music education seems that, especially in the guitar world, teaching overestimates the importance of the instrument and ignores generic issues related to career development, maturation, other arts, other disciplines. So I know you recommend not to study long time with the same teacher and to look for several influences in order to get different points of view. Also you refer to the reading of a great poet: Rainer Maria Rilke Letters to a Young Poet. What can we find in it?
My main aim as a teacher is to accompany my students on their path to become independent and to find their own musical voice. I think that a teacher has a great responsibility, especially, when a student is planning to do music as a profession. In this case it is not just important to supply the student with the best musical and technical abilities but also to encourage her or him to get a broad education, which is not just based on musical skills. With a narrow minded view, one will have a very difficult time to exhaust all the individual possibilities, which life offers. I think it is very, very necessary to learn as much as you can and to get as much background informations as you can. As an artist you never know what life is preparing for you and it is careless to think: "Oh I want to be a performing artist and therefore I just learn how to play my instrument". As an artist especially, you must be as flexible as possible. Through learning, for example, other styles of music or through learning the harmonic context of music or even through learning conducting or how to compose, you could suddenly experience new abilities! And you will, in any case, be a better, which means more mature, performer!

Rainer Maria Rilke
Socrates once said “To learn means to remember.” I think this expression shows that everything we can learn is naturally inclined deeply inside of us. That does not mean, that we don´t have to work hard in order to successfully achieve progress. On the contrary: just if we really deeply grapple with certain problems, we will mature and overcome these problems. Socrates expression shows, that everybody has a great potential in learning, if one always tries to look behind the things and tries to critically question, what one is doing or what one gets imparted. In this case “to remember” means to realize, that everybody can train the ability to become independent and to find their own way to achieve progress and, for example, in music to overcome certain technical problems. Therefore the ancient Greeks called a teacher “paidagogós”, which means somebody who accompanies pupils. I think this is an essential point: It is very important, that a student doesn´t become dependent on the teacher. Following the expression of Socrates, a teacher should just accompany the student and impart her or him the right tools until the student is able to independently continue their path on their own. Every student has to find out by himself, when it is time to look for a new teacher. I strongly recommend students after a while to always look for new sources of inspiration. Concerning the book of Rilke, I think it gives beautiful ideas, if you as a young person are looking to find out, whether you want to go the path as a musician.

You are an artist who uses your musical improvisation as an important resource. As the teacher you are, have you used this resource with guitar groups? What resources do you use for this?
Next to the masterclasses and workshops I hold for Universities or Festivals, I offer also chamber music seminars. Part of these seminars are often also improvisatory courses.  I want to help the participants to experience first steps into the world of intuitive music making. I guide them through imaginative ideas and through helping them to carefully listen to each other. The results are mostly really exciting and the responses of the participants are often enthusiastic!

Improvisation does not enjoy good reputation in classical circles, in general terms. How do you introduce this practice to reluctant students, accustomed to the rigidity of the score?
Over the last 10 years I investigated a lot of time in the research of the guitar music by Heitor Villa-Lobos. I compared all available sources and found out, that the manuscripts by him vary strongly from most of the published versions. For me it was like a revelation to look through the manuscripts and to find his guitar works in a new light. I did two recordings of his works including the manuscript versions of some of his famous works (f.ex. 12 Etudes, 5 Preludios) as well as some of his most unknown pieces.  For me it was amazing to see, that Villa-Lobos always introduced new musical ideas into later versions of his pieces, so that for example no manuscript of the same piece was identical. He was somehow improvising with his ideas. As you know, in his musical life he started as autodidact and also as an improvisator. I tell that story to my students to help them to understand, that a score needs also to be looked at from different perspectives and that you always have to creat out of the moment – also if you interpret composed music. To have had experiences in improvisations definitely opens also new doors for the playing approach.
What is Crystallization? How was it created? Where can we find it?
The CD “Crystallization” is my first solo recording with exclusively my own music. You can get it, for example, through I-Tunes or you can order it through my website www.johannestoniokreusch.com.

Some pieces on this disc are purely improvised and some are composed. As I said before, in this music I make use of different scordatura tunings and preparations on the guitar.

Among many other things besides performer and teacher, you're a composer. Do you think every teacher of instrument should have some practice with the composition to include it as part of their classes?
For me it is a great help to have experiences in composing and improvisation also when I interpret other composer´s thoughts. It helps me to understand the composer´s intention better. Also my students appreciate if I help them to do first compositional steps.

You usually start your concerts with an improvisation. How do you do that?
As a way of breathing in, most of my concerts begin with an improvisation. This allows me not only to acquaint myself with the acoustic possibilities of the concert hall in every detail, but also to build up a very personal relationship with the audience. This kind of tone breathing-in of the acoustic and the direct search for sound can be a linking process for player and listener and make up the framework within which the pictures imagined by the composers gathered together can come to life.

I always prepare some ideas in which direction I want to go through my improvisations. Sometimes I´m inspired by the composition which will follow later in my recital.
I do have motives and rhythmical elements, which I prepare ahead and which I let flow during the improvisation into something complete. It is like telling a story: it is important to create a bow of tension through finding a good proportion of beginning, climax and ending.

My compositions mostly go a similar way. Through improvisation I often find ideas and motives, which I want to develop into something complex and which I write down and which build up the beginning of a compositional process. I would describe the way I compose like a painter who tries to paint through sounds, because I often have certain moods or atmospheres in my mind, when I´m composing.



(Continue on part III)