[ Artist Spotlight ]
Since making his name on the international circuit as a young pianist in the 1960s, pianist Peter Frankl has performed across the globe with some of the world’s finest orchestras and most esteemed conductors, collaborated with numerous chamber ensembles and has an extensive discography. In recognition of his numerous artistic achievements he was awarded the Officer’s Cross and Middle Cross by the Hungarian Republic. Peter Frankl is a member of the Yale Faculty and an Honorary Professor at the Liszt Academy. View complete biography.
When you are away touring, do you bring anything special with you to remind you of home?
Photographs of my two children.
When you fly what do you like to read? How do you pass the time?
Reading biographies. When travelling with my wife, I enjoy playing Scrabble with her. When I am alone, Sudoku is good to kill time.
What is a favorite non-musical past time?
Watching tennis and soccer – I used to play the latter when I was young.
What is your favorite concert hall (aside from the Music Shed of course) to play in and why? And it doesn’t have to be for a musical reason.
I loved to play in the large hall of the Liszt Academy in Budapest. It was a beautiful hall with wonderful acoustics, especially for solo recitals and chamber music. When – after an absence of 14 years – I returned there for the first time, I felt very nostalgic for my student years… the electricity in the hall was palpable and it took me a while before I could start the concert. At present the building is being completely renovated and the hall is closed. Hopefully it will be rebuilt to its former glory. My other favorite concert halls are the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall and the Severance Hall in Cleveland.
What does it feel like right before you walk onto the stage? What runs through your mind?
I am always tense before going on stage and I hope to find a rapport with my audience right from the start – which is not always easy.
Is there a work that brings to mind a particularly happy memory? For instance, is there a piece that made you want to play your chosen instrument, or one that always reminds you of home or a favorite place? Would you share the work and the memory?
I was very young when I heard Annie Fischer play the Mozart Concerto in E flat, K 482. It made a huge impact on me and I was so glad that I played this very piece on my New York debut with George Szell.
Everyone dislikes as least one thing about their profession. Aside from being away from loved ones and home, what is your least favorite part about being a musician?
What I dislike intensely is jealousy and competitiveness among artists. When I moved to London about 50 years ago, I was very happy there, and one of the reasons was the friendly atmosphere among us young artists. Later on at Yale, with Claude Frank and Boris Berman on the piano faculty, I felt immediately at home in this wonderful, friendly environment.
What is your favorite piece music and why?
I love operas and two of my favorites that come to my mind are Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Verdi’s Falstaff. From the first to the last note these operas are perfection in themselves, and musically I find them the most satisfying works to listen to.
When you perform, what do you try to communicate to the listener?
Obviously, as I have developed throughout the decades as a human being, my understanding and interpretation of the music I am performing have also changed – hopefully for the better!
Is there anything about the way classical music is presented to the world that you would like to see change or evolve?
I am not an advocate of the new trend of interpreting 18th and 19th-century music on period instruments. I like to hear the great composers’ works interpreted with rich sound and emotion – of course in the style of the composer in question.
Often we hear people say that they don’t listen to classical music or go to classical music concerts for fear of not “knowing anything about it” or “understanding it.” How would you respond to them? What three works would you recommend as an introduction genre?
Let people taste the best variety of the classics – the same way as tasting different types of good food. I am sure they will not go home hungry… Why not start with Bach, Mozart, Chopin or Schubert?
And finally, for the all the Fantasy Baseball players out there, if you could play in an ensemble with anyone, living or dead, no matter what the instrument, whom would you choose and why?
I would have loved to play a Brahms Concerto with the great Carlos Kleiber… this would have been the greatest musical experience of my whole life!