[ Artist Spotlight ]

Herbert Kefer

Herbert Kefer was born in Eisenerz, Austria, in 1960, and began studying violin at the age of five. Subsequently he continued his studies with Prof. Karl Frischenschlager and then with Prof. Karl Stierhof at the University of Music in Vienna. In 1980, he founded, together with three colleagues, the Artis Quartet. From 1984 to 1985, the Quartet spent a year in Cincinnati, Ohio, studying with the LaSalle Quartet. Soon following, the Artis Quartet’s international career began. With the Quartet, Kefer has performed at numerous well-known festivals including Salzburger Festspiele, Schubertiade Feldkirch, Wiener Festwochen and the Casals Festival to name a few. The Artis Quartet has produced more than 30 CDs, many garnering prestigious honors including the Grand Prix du Disque and the Diapason d´Or. In addition to his work with the Quartet, Kefer is in a demand as a soloist as well as a much sought after chamber music partner. In 1991, he was appointed head of the viola department at the University of Music in Graz. Since 2005, he has been the Director of the Weinklang Festival.

When you are away touring, do you bring anything special with you to remind you of home?

A few photographs of my family.

When you fly what do you like to read? How do you pass the time?

Newspapers, books, watch movies, sleep.

What is a favorite non-musical past time?

Since I can remember I´m making music, so basically there was no such  thing as a real non-musical past time.

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.

Wigmore Hall because of the acoustics, Brahmssaal at the Vienna Musikverein because that´s our home.

What does it feel like right before you walk onto the stage? What runs through your mind?

Can´t wait to get on stage and play for the people. Sometimes, if you play a piece for the first time, one might have second thoughts…

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?

Mozart Piano Concerto in C Major, K 415, because this was the first piece I played on the viola, and I deeply fell in love both with the piece and the instrument immediately.

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?

Applying for a US visa….

What is one of your favorite pieces of music and why?

There are many, but out of them the Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart. Why? – I hope you will hear…

Is there anything about the way classical music is presented to the world that you would like to see change or evolve?

I would like to skip the word “classical”.

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 to the genre?

From what I´ve learned from my kids, they just got in touch with music, “classical” or otherwise; and it turned out that they started to enjoy Zemlinsky and Schoenberg as well as Beethoven, Bartók and Haydn on an instinctive basis. At the same time they listened to pop music. I think the key is the emotional content. Later on their reception of music was enriched by more knowledge, but I don´t think that it´s necessary for the first encounter.