Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?
I really do not know, perhaps my older sister’s lessons which I liked to listen to from the age of 3. She was not doing very well, in fact she hated practising the piano ( although she always loved the music but not the work involved) ,but I was learning a lot behind closed doors. We had a lovely grand piano and the piano & me were inseparable, very strange for a child of that age. I was also constantly glued to the radio, in those days in Poland, all you heard was either classical music or propaganda programmes. I chose music!!
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My Russian teacher Professor Tatjana Kestner in Moscow, Professor Wanda Losakiewicz, Professor Zbigniew Drzewiecki in Poland and my last teacher, Professor Ryszard Bakst at The RNCM in the UK.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Challanges? In a musician’s life there are always plenty of challenges. You have to challenge yourself all the time otherwise your standards will drop. As I have had a long break from the piano for various reasons, my biggest challenge is to re-establish myself again on the concert platform.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I am very proud of my recital performance I gave few years ago at Chethams School of Music during their annual International Summer School Festival for Pianists in Manchester (where I am a frequent member of the Piano faculty) just few weeks after my beloved sister Eliżbieta lost her long battle with cancer. It was a very difficult recital for me to play, in fact I was not sure if I could get through it. I have dedicated that performance and a CD which was recorded live during that recital to her memory. It was a very memorable and moving experience, and I received a standing ovation…
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I love playing Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, most romantic composers – and Chopin of course.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It depends what I am asked for. I find that very often I will be asked to give all-Chopin recital. But I like to mix my programmes and deliver a variety of styles: it makes it so much more interesting and demanding, as you can show the different sounds and colours of the piano, especially when playing Debussy and Ravel.
I still like to add new works to my repertoire, and I enjoy learning new pieces although it is not quite as straightforward as it used to be!!
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I think the most fantastic venue I ever performed in was La Scala Theatre in Milan. The atmosphere on the stage and backstage was incredible. To think of all those wonderful singers like Caruso, Pavarotti, Callas, Frenni and so many others using the same dressing rooms: unbelievable!! (By the way, dressing rooms were not all that grand!!) Sheer beauty of both, recital room and the main hall, is something I will never forget and will treasure for ever. Wigmore Hall is another wonderful place. And of course very close to my heart is Chopin’s birth place, Żelazowa Wola, and Lazienki Park in Warsaw where you perform in the open air underneath Chopin’s monument. Sometimes you think he is going to say something to you – a bit scary!!
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Chopin’s 4th Ballade and 1st Piano concerto, Schubert’s B-flat major Sonata D960 and Franck’s Prelude, Chorale & Fugue all feature very highly as my favourites but….. There are just so many pieces I love playing and fugues are amongst my favourites, in any style. Give me a fugue and I can spend hours poring over it!
Who are your favourite musicians?
Rubinstein, Richte, Gilels, Argerich to name just a few….
What is your most memorable concert experience?
There are a few, but most probably the most intense and memorable because of where it was – Mozart’s Piano Concerto KV 466 in La Scala ,Milan.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
It is very important to play to others, especially if it involves a new piece never performed before. Play with a second piano if performing a concerto, and make sure that you study the orchestral score well so when it comes to first rehearsal you are not put off by some new tune you have not heard when playing with second piano! Also learn to take criticism and benefit from it. It is not always right, but there is always some truth in it, so do not be put off, and persevere .
What are you working on at the moment?
Works by Chopin including the Polonaise-Fantasie, Szymanowski Masques and Bacewicz Sonata no. 2. I am also learning a new work recently written for piano and orchestra but cannot disclose any details yet!!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Very happy to be on the beach in Villajoyosa in Spain or walking around Old Town in Warsaw.
What is your most treasured possession?
My piano and my cat Pudding.
What is your present state of mind?
Feeling hopeful that some of my wishes connected with stage comeback will come true.
Alicja Fiderkiewicz’s discs of music by Chopin, Schumann, Franck and Hindemith have been re-released. Further information and purchase CDs here
Details of Alicja’s forthcoming concerts
Alicja Fiderkiewicz was born in Warsaw, Poland and began to learn the piano at the age of seven. Her studies continued at the Central School of Music in the Moscow Conservatoire, Warsaw School of Music and finally at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where she was a student of Professor Ryszard Bakst.
Alicja Fiderkiewicz began to fulfill regular professional engagements when she was 15 years old.
She has been awarded a Chopin Scholarship in Poland for 4 consecutive years. She is a winner and prize winner of several national and international piano competitions including Dudley International Piano Competition and Premio Dino Ciani International Piano Competition in La Scala,Milan, and she is also a recipient of Calouste Gulbenkian Music Fellowship.
Alicja has performed extensively in Poland, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Spain, Japan, Cyprus and the UK at prestigious venues such as Wigmore Hall and St. John’s Smith’s Square, and in many other venues in the UK. She has performed as a soloist with Manchester Camerata, Da Camera, Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, La Scala Theatre Orchestra, Halle Orchestra and many others.
Alicja has released 4 CD’s under Dunelm and Divine Art labels. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV.
Alicja also has quite a busy teaching career. She has given masterclasses in the UK, Japan, Spain, Cyprus and was for many years a member of teaching faculty at Chethams School of Music in Manchester. She is also a frequent performer and tutor at the International Piano Summer School at Chethams-Manchester.
Her repertoire ranges from early baroque up to late 20th century works.