World-renowned Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi is the ambitious innovator behind a project to create a completely new instrument, and the focus of the revolutionary Bogányi piano is on the clearest, boldest, premium quality sound possible.
Gergely Bogány kindly completed my Meet the Artist questionnaire in which he discusses his motivation for designing a new piano, and his many other influences and inspirations.
Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
I grew up in a very musical family. We were always listening to music. Mostly Bach, as my father played the organ. He was the leader of several choruses at the time, and the singers were always coming round to our house to rehearse. My mother plays and teaches the piano and she taught me too. My siblings and I grew to love music very much thanks to our parents.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Liszt! And, of course, Chopin. Later on, I got to know the music of Dohnanyi, the genius Hungarian composer and pianist. There aren’t many recordings of him playing, but still I can say that it inspired me very much. By listening to LP recordings when I was studying some 15 years ago, I discovered the music and piano playing of musicians like Rachmaninov and Cortot. As a pianist, Rachmaninov made a deep impression and the musical interpretations of Alfred Cortot are the pinnacle.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Two answers: every concert is the greatest challenge, because each time I seek to transmit a message, as communication is key to be a performer, and each time, we have to manage a different piano, for good or bad, and get the best out of it. This is where my obsession with creating my own idea of a “perfect” piano came from and the subsequent development of the Bogány Piano.
Technically speaking, my greatest challenge took place in 2010 at the Palace of Arts in Budapest when I performed every piano work that Chopin composed in a marathon over two days with ten recitals. One recital “dose” of his beautiful and powerful music just didn’t feel enough. I was craving more and also imagined that audiences felt the same way too. I hope that they went away with a great appreciation of his music after 10 doses.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Of about 20 recordings, I can’t single out any one CD in particular, but I can say that there are moments and tracks, which I feel are acceptable. One of my proudest recording moments was recording the full Chopin marathon for live broadcast to celebrate the composer’s 200th anniversary.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
I enjoy playing romantic repertoire as much as playing Mozart. I don’t specialise in performing the work of any particular composer, but if I would have to pick one, I would say Liszt. He has set an example to me both personally and musically.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I simply choose to play what I like.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
As a performer, I believe that we need to be able and prepared the transmit the music’s message in any condition. If a concert hall enables and supports this, then I am happy. It’s difficult to single out one specific favourite venue, as fortunately there are many excellent concert venues. However, I would like to point out the Great Hall of the Liszt Academy, not because of its ultimate superiority, but because the venue contains the successful combination of both excellent acoustics as well as its beauty. It has been created by instinct and not based on factual calculations.
What do you consider to be most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would like to advise future musicians to concentrate on exploring the music in great depth and forget about all the hype about building a career.
What was the main motivation for designing a new piano?
Having performed for years in the world’s most renewed concert halls, I played with a sound I had in mind, that was different from what I heard when I was playing. My search to look for a more beautiful, harmonious and flowing sound, was the motivation to start experimenting with the sound board on my own piano and to bridge the gap between the sound in my head and the sound I was actually hearing.
What makes this new instrument unique and special?
The Bogányi Piano looks like a traditional piano in a special new design, but the technical details and use of modern materials makes it unique. The sound-board is made of multi-layered carbon-fibre with a rippled surface that is sprung and detached from the piano frame. Making use of that material makes the piano resistant to exterior conditions like heat, humidity, cold, damp and dryness and prevent the soundboard from breakage. More importantly, the sound of the piano is very powerful and round, which is acoustically supported by the design of two legs (instead of normally three) that act as a reflector to enhance the sound towards the audience.
Where would you like to be in 1 years’ time?
I would like to come across the Bogányi piano in unexpected places across the globe.
What is your present state of mind?
I always try to be humble, intelligible and very passionate. That is what I am aiming for.
Gergely Bogányi is a born musician, from a musical Hungarian family. His brilliant technique, coupled with a deeply expressed, artistic interpretation has made him an outstanding international performer. Born in Vác, Hungary, he began playing the piano at the age of four. He continued his studies at the Liszt Academy in Budapest with László Baranyay. He also studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Professor Matti Raekallio, and at the university of Indiana in Bloomington with Professor György Sebök.
He participated in several master classes by Annie Fischer and Ferenc Rados. Among his professors he fondly remembers Annie Fischer who made a deep impression upon his art. She instructed him regularly and was a cherished mentor until her death.
From a young age, Gergely Bogányi has had success in several national and international competitions. He won a prize at the national piano competition in Nyíregyháza at the age of six, and three years later he won top prize there.
In Helsinki he was a three-time winner of the Finnish radio “Helmi Vesa Competition.” He won first prizes in both the Chopin and the Mozart competitions in Budapest in 1993, and Indiana University’s music competition in 1994. In 1996 he earned the gold Medal at the “International Franz
Liszt Competition” in Budapest, one of the most distinguished piano competitions in the world.At the exceptionally young age of 22, Gergely Bogányi was appointed a citizen of honor in his native town of Vác. In 2000 he was awarded the “Liszt Prize” by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in Hungary. In 2002 he was also presented the “Cross of Merit of the White Rose” of Finland by the President of the Finnish Republic. In 2004 he received the “Kossuth Prize” from the President of the Hungarian Republic, the highest artistic award of his native country. In November 2010 he was awarded a unique “Art Citizenship/ Chopin year” passport by the Polish government.