2013. január 13., vasárnap

Interview with Harpist Dr. Erzsébet Gaál

H&H: You have been promoting music of many Hungarian composers by playing them on concerts, CD programs and in teaching them in the United States. What do American people know about Hungarian music? What are they interested in the most regarding Hungarian music?

Dr. Erzsébet Gaál: I, too, think of these questions when I perform, or teach, or organize concerts. Because these questions are general questions, it is difficult to answer them specifically. Despite that the Hungarian music culture is well known world wide, I very seldom meet musicians here in the United States who would be familiar with Hungarian composers other than Liszt, Dohnányi, Kodály and Bartók. More specifically, American harpists are mostly familiar with orchestra excerpts of these Hungarian composers. It can be very enjoyable for harpists to play, for example, orchestra parts by Liszt. Also, orchestra excerpts by Bartók are standard repertoire of orchestra auditions.

Dr. Erzsébet Gaál in Budapest

H&H: Ottó Mosshammer and Aristid von Würtzler have lived in the US for many years and also your first harp instructor, Henrik Rohmann, has visited there. How popular these Hungarian harp players are in the States?

Dr. Gaál: While these Hungarian harp players are well known in the Hungarian harp history, they are less known in the US. They have been active here many generations before. I should add that since than, there were other Hungarian harpists who were guest performers in the States such as Hédy Lubik, Éva Maros and Anna Lelkes.

H&H: Once you have mentioned that Hungarian music teaching is world- renowned. How are American schools different from Hungarian schools? In what area Hungarian schools are stronger? Where should we be even better?

Dr. Gaál: The Kodály concept has served as a fantastic foundation in Hungarian music teaching. Generations of musicians have grown up on this foundation that continues to have an influence in music teaching. Because of the American music teaching does not have a common foundation, it would be difficult to compare the music education system in Hungary versus in America where a lot depends on schools and on instructors. For example, many elementary schools do not have music education in their curriculum therefore all responsibilities of music teaching fall on private music instructors. With regards of harpists, Hungarian harpists pass international standards. However in order to excel above standards, fostering Hungarian harp literature and commissioning new Hungarian harp compositions would be needed. I think, roots are necessary in order to have our music culture blossom and to know where Hungarian harp music is today.

H&H: What kind of harp do you have? Which one is your favorite?

Dr. Gaál: It is a very personal question. Because harps are very different, they suit different individuals. I have Lyon & Healy harps, which have served me excellent in all areas of my work.

H&H: In Hungary, some of the most challenging problems are purchasing and maintaining a harp. How much is the situation different in the US? How much could we learn from American harp makers and harp dealers?

Dr. Gaál: The situation of purchasing and maintaining a harp in the US is also difficult. Therefore much depends on our care of our instruments. It is something that we harpists need to learn along with doing our fingers.

H&H: Thank you for interview!

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Erzsébet Gaál's web page
Erzsébet Gaál on Wikipedia