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Thomas (Austria)

picture credit: Furtseff

Thomas is a bassoonist. He lives in Switzerland.

What kind of music do you like listening to in your free time?

I have been addicted to classical music since I was about six years old. In other words: I listened to classical music as soon as I got up, before I went to bed, during class (driving my teachers mad), while I was traveling, eating, and so on. But, to be honest for the last view years I haven’t been listening to classical music anymore in my free time. I’m sure that has something to do with my job and the constant “noise” my ears are exposed to. If I listen to music when I’m off work, I now prefer Tango or Blues.

Have you always known that music would become the most prominant part of your life?

Yes and no. When I started to take music lessons (piano) I was seven years old. I didn’t start playing the bassoon until I was fifteen, which is relatively old to begin playing an instrument for a classical musician. Until I started playing the bassoon, I really hated practicing. I didn’t fall into a music career until I was seventeen or eighteen years old, and it was a gradual process. I won a couple of competitions and then got accepted for the music program at the university.
Actually, to be really successful in this job, you also have to see it as a hobby. If I don’t feel passionate about what I am doing, I will loose my motivation. This is both a difficult as well as a fascinating process.

Do you wish that classical music would receive more attention in the media?

Personally, I think the amount of attention classical music gets in the media pretty much depends on the country you’re in. I travel a lot and I find there are countries where there is indeed a lot of media drawn to classical music. Yet, I also think that the responsibility regarding the media presence also rests with the orchestras and musicians themselves. A positive example here is the Education-Program of the Berlin Philharmonics, where potential musicians develop an enthusiasm for classical music from early childhood on, emphasizing the passion for music rather than the hard work behind a successful career.

How do you like being part of an orchestra? Are the musicians competitive with each other at times?

An orchestra is comparable to a big company. In my experience, there are only a few professional orchestras in the world where the suggested (interpersonal) harmony between the musicians isn’t fake. Of course there are coworkers you get along with better than others, yet there are also arguments and problems. On stage we usually are just like actors, whose job it is to entertain the audience. Like in any company, there are better and worse jobs and therefore, there are always people who would rather have somebody else’s job, particularly when it come to the position of soloists. I guess this is just very human and hard to avoid.

Do you have a favorite piece of music you particularly enjoy playing?

Out of all the pieces I play, my favorites change almost on a daily base. Usually, my personal approach very much depends on the environment and on the first exposure to the piece and less on the piece itself or the style of music.
It often happens that I loved a piece of music while playing with a particular conductor, orchestra, pianist or at a special venue but then when playing it under different conditions I did not enjoy it at all. The environment, the conductor, my musical partners, the acoustics at the venue, or my personal feelings at the time of the concert are more important than the piece itself when it comes to whether I enjoyed playing it or not.

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