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Interview in Hamamatsu – part 1

Monday September 18th, 2017

Alexander was born in Italy in 1994. He studied piano under his parents who are piano teachers, and now studies at the Mozarteum University, Salzburg in Austria. His confident, creative music enthralled the audience and gained him First Prize as well as Audience Prize. When CDs of the first stage competition performances were sold at the Concert Hall, Alexander’s CD was the top seller among all the contestants (which means the audience in Hamamatsu recognized Alexander’s talent from the beginning; how good their ears are…!) I had a long interview with Alexander, who makes one intelligent statement after another, while periodically revealing the bright, humorous side of his personality.

─ Congratulations on winning First Prize and Audience Prize!

I’m very happy. Isn’t it a good sign to be chosen both by the jury and by the audience? Because the jury members will leave Hamamatsu tomorrow, but the audience will still be here from now on!

─ I see…you are right. You are brilliant.

Yes I am…you know, I’m unbelievably clever (laughs)!

─ Don’t get me wrong. I mean, from the video message you gave after your semi-final performance I can see you think very logically. In that message, you said, “the percentage of the works by Russian composers to be performed in the final stage is…, so the percentage I could take forward to the final stage is…”

Ah, yes, I said so…I used to study sciences.

When I was a high school student, I focused on academic subjects and didn’t study the piano very hard. I used to practice for only a few hours per day. I began studying at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg when I was 19, and this is now my third year.

─ Do you mean you haven’t yet made the decision to become a pianist?

Well… around the time I entered the Mozarteum I wasn’t sure. I got high marks at high school and would have been accepted into any university, so I had a lot of options when I graduated from high school. There was a time I thought about studying something else as well as playing the piano.

As there are a lot of good universities in Salzburg, I may study something else in addition, or I may stay within the Mozarteum and just study conducting, composition and music theory. I’m also interested in studying philosophy.

─ How about mastering philosophy as a pianist? In this difficult global situation, I think learning philosophy is really important, although politicians and economists are also needed…

That might be a good idea. Although the question is whether, as a concert pianist who is usually very busy, I could put aside enough time for studying philosophy.

Indeed, all academic subjects, including politics and economics, have their roots in philosophy. And I think a musician is similar to a philosopher. Our world has always had problems to face, even after World War II, and while many people focus on the economy and business activities, we need people who can provide solutions to these problems.

Bernstein said something like “Playing music more beautifully and more passionately will save the world from fighting”.

─ Going back to the subject of the Hamamatsu competition, how did you feel when you found out you were the winner of the competition?

I couldn’t believe it. But my first thought was that this would give me many opportunities to come back to Japan.

The second part will be published soon.

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