Violinist Yair Clessé: “one cannot become a monkey»

In their 78 famous Israeli violinist and teacher Yair Clessé affects activity, restlessness, easily moving between continents with concerts and master classes (and in Russia at times looks), and are valuable not only his game, but the very perception of the world, because Clessé is one of the last keepers of a centuries-old violin tradition. And this is a very different attitude to the culture when you’re seven hands can reach the great violinists of the eighteenth century… With Yair we met at his home in Vienna, at the time brief small breaks between endless touring.

“In five years, I was a doctor of medicine!»

— Yair, that you were born in Palestine in 1940, before the official founding of the state of Israel…

— It’s not only Palestine was, and Palestin so precisely because the territory was under the British mandate.. .

— What is Israel? This is the way? Eternal hard way? When everyone needs to plant a desert tree? The country is in a permanent state of war…

— War? In Paris or in London kill more people than in all of Israel together. Israel is home. This is a continuation of Europe in the middle East.

— Europeans?

— Well, Yes. I don’t play Arabic music. Maybe Mozart and the sounds I like Arabic music, but I try to make it better (laughs). Sure, Israel will become a normal country. Moses took 40 years to get from Egypt to the promised land, although he was able to walk to Switzerland, which did not yet exist. Of course, we are not in the best environment, but the cultural level (orchestras, Opera houses etc.) in Israel is much higher than in many European countries. And war… it is always a war.

An anecdote with me. I was given master classes in Finland, and suddenly I get a call one local woman: “don’t go back to Israel, where Saddam Hussein started the war. Bring your family to us!”. — “This is not the first war — answer — and not the last, do not worry.” “You don’t understand, — she continues, — I know what you all propose to stay, so move in with me — my house is a sauna there! Sauna!”. It’s not the answer you expected?

— What is Palestine was in the days of your childhood — what memories?

— Were all the same as now. For me, nothing has changed with the formation of the state of Israel. We lived in tel Aviv in a long building, divided into separate sections, entrances in England…

The family lived in prosperity?

— The history of my family — a complex history. In late 1940 my father was drafted into the British army. And my mother during the war worked as a nurse. Then my father was taken prisoner by the Germans, and returned home in 1944, a cancer patient. And almost immediately died. I almost didn’t. A few years later the mother remarried, and this man is my stepfather — I was actually brought up. And he, in turn, also lost his family during the war. Time passed, my mother and my stepfather died in one day. If you take any Jewish family from Europe, they all will be about the same story.

I grew up a happy child. And he decided to become a musician. Before the violin was just a mandatory part of Jewish education. But parents, of course, and did not think about the musician’s career.

What’s the reasoning?

When the Jewish mother ask — “How old are your kids?”she always replies, “the Doctor five years, and the engineer — three”. So in five years I went to tel Aviv as “the doctor”, and at 14 became a violinist. And it was my own choice. Let someone else be a doctor.

— How did you managed at your age not to lose the thirst to playing music?

— And what age? Do I look like bad to eat? I probably have Alzheimer’s, but I don’t remember how old I am. I think the answer is good. What I just said? (Laughs.)

“To teach the young people need that need that she»

— Question — how according to the Bible: virtuoso violinist of the eighteenth century, Tartini gave rise Pugnani (passed the tradition to the student), Punjani spawned Viotti, Viotti — Bayo, Bayo — Berio, Berio — vietna, vietan — Hubei, Hubei — Gertler, Gertler — Yair Clessé, that is, you.

— A kind of Cosa Nostra is obtained…

— Well, you, I mean biblical principle…

— There is also the mafia? (Laughs)

— Their kind. But seriously — these centuries-old chain now broken? Three hundred years of history down the drain? Because the tradition is blurred: modern violinists are simply taking lessons from everyone, the more the better…

— I will say this. Of course, the old school developed special. At the time there was a French and Belgian schools from different sides came eventually to one. In parallel was the German school, which ended to the great violinist Joseph Joachim. And was also a Russian school, a Prime example of it — Leopold Auer… What now? Now, for example, in Juliane teach Japanese, French and Russian at the same time. In Vienna the Russians, the Israelis… Already my teacher, Gertler half a century ago, saying that there were only two schools — the good and the bad. Yes, the tradition goes. More precisely, transformed into a different quality. Therefore, it is important to feel them. And, at least, respect.

— Impact on the music that the musician is not of this eternity?

— Now very well developed and fashionable type of musician-athletes. But there can be development only in the rise of the technical level. Should grow as a person. And the role of the teacher here is to find the right proportion in the training: of course, an important technical level, but without the deep personal qualities is nothing. Throughout the Hebrew Testament the one thing I really like: teach young people what we need, not what you need. I have a lot of students. And although I have my own personal system of training, none of my students are not like me, and in this great happiness. Pedagogy now occupies 80% of my time, but I don’t believe in teachers who do not play. How can I talk about the scene, if he did not know what it is? My goal is to combine music and personality. But in order to set this task, I myself am learning all the time I… continue to give concerts. Do you know how old I am? I learn and play, learn and play…

— This is a large chain of tradition all the same is not interrupted?

— It would be better not to interrupt. After all, what makes a teacher? He conveys his enthusiasm and his admiration for the music, which he in turn gave it to the teacher. And then a big mistake of Europe is that in many music colleges there is a separate teaching Department, where you’re going, as a rule, those who play normally. In Israel — and I have a hand in it — fortunately, it is not so: in my class passed hundreds of good violinists.

— Here’s one of your “mental teachers” Fiddler vietan Henri (1820 — 1881), he penned many. And not only it. All their generation, their entire galaxy… Why did they do it? Developed capacities of the violin as an instrument?

— Those things that we today take from these violinists as student etudes, at the time, played as a concert piece. Or take the famous French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer: he just took it and wrote 40 operas. Every year wrote for the Opera. What for? Why? Yes, because they were Musicians with a capital letter. Not just performers. It’s a completely different level of perception than now. Each of them lived the Creator, the demiurge. And if now the violinist will be able to compose a Cadenza, then everyone thinks he’s a genius. At the same time composing operas and symphonies were in the normal course of life…

— That is quite a different saturation of life, and hence different energy performance?

Energy is now more complexity. Let’s see how everything goes now towards more and more specialization. (Laughs) That is a specialist in the right hand, here on the left. A specialist in Baroque, a specialist in Mozart… Yes, which specialist? Music is music. It is everywhere. It is all over. And if so will shrink, then I’m sorry we will come to zero. People lack perspective. Cultural in the first place.

Ask the young violinist — what is a ballad as a genre? But he did not answer. He’s not interested. He is concerned about the sporting achievements. You will not believe, 25 years ago in America, the violinists had done so much that everyone without exception has begun clamping hand — tenosynovitis (inflammation of muscles). And if you have in the left hand was tenosynovitis, which meant what little you do.

— To which it was necessary to bring musical perception?..

Don’t tell very many mistakes were made. If a small child is tortured solely technical exercises, the brain had completely atrophied. And if all teachers do that, it will take proper and healthy environment? Even if you’re a genius, you have to think all the time — someone to learn and how, otherwise you’ll Bang your head against the wall. I can always recognize the musician, once seen — it’s just “a techie”, or is it the artist. How can, for example, to play Debussy, if people never saw the paintings of the Impressionists? I can many students to speak about a different sound, but if it’s not necessary to rely on associations, nothing will. The absence of this latitude the horizon is reflected especially on stringed instruments and vocals. The tone of the sound is lost instantly.

“Man cannot be a monkey, because he does not know — how»

— Violin is a machine or all the same one?

— Listen to me tool — that’s why I always get upset when every year paying for it, insurance and big. More than 17 thousand euros per year. So it becomes more than a friend. It is already a part of me.

— And immediately responds to your call?

The violin itself does not sound. Someone after the concert came to Heifetz and said, “Ah, the sound of your violin!”. And he holds her — “Here, try it.” Or there is an anecdote about Heifetz. He came to my gig in Canada. Snow. Storm. It is only one person in the audience sits. The weather is awful. “Mr. Heifetz, said this is the only viewer — I came all this way to hear your staccato! Play staccato and I go.” Khayfets played… “Mr. Heifetz, but it was staccato bow up. And you can bow down?”. Khayfets played staccato bow down. “Mr. Heifetz, your staccato up-bow is better than your staccato down bow”. Or one time violinist eugène ysaÿe lived in America. Come to Texas. Thinks: “Well, who here will listen to the Bach Chaconne?”. He replaced the Rondo capriccioso. And one viewer said, “I’m very upset. I came 500 miles to hear the Chaconne in your performance”. And then the ysaÿe picked up and played him a Bach Chaconne. “Are you happy now?”. — «No. I didn’t like how you performed”.

— Do you write music?

— Only cadence. When I was 12, I listened to the first time the Kreutzer Sonata… was so impressed. Wanted her to shift for the band. Tried, but nothing happened. And then I read a book about Tchaikovsky. And Tchaikovsky did not at the age of 12, and 11. I was very upset. And since writing is not tried…

— Many discuss sport as a sport, the idea that human power is not unlimited… and if you want to keep the sports movement, we need a new paradigm. Whether in music to be a different paradigm?

— Of course, there is no future, if we take and to achieve external results. But musicians are pathological optimists. Here I imagine the violin? All my life I spend on it so my fingers fit on this tiny space. And I must be a complete idiot to do it. And I can see in Israel, where early in a large number of produced violinists, scientists are now producing. They used to say that if a Jewish boy comes without a case, so he’s a pianist. Now the future lies in science. We lost to Elon musk, we are the losers. The future of science. I have two children. And four grandsons. So I don’t want them to be musicians. Because this profession is getting harder and harder to live. This ignoble profession.

— That is, within the profession there is no harmony? It turns out the life is contrary?

— Yeah. Here the musicians are idiots. Even the Bible says — if someone thinks that he is a prophet, then he is a fool. There, musicians will always be, but the proportions will change a lot. Musicians are becoming less and less. In General there is a crisis in culture, but one cannot become a monkey back only because I don’t know how to do it. One-there is hope (laughs), that if someone from the Mask will fly to Mars, it would be nice to that someone played the violin. By the way, it is much easier than to take them to Mars cello.

Still, if tradition were to be killed, interrupted — violin will survive anyway?

— Hope, the human being loves music. But what path is chosen, I don’t know. Stringed instruments have evolved historically because they like singing. Violin, viola, cello, have a timbre, vibrato system, all in order to imitate the human voice. And while people are singing, then there will be stringed instruments. Pure physiology.

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