Music was an inseparable part of my life from the very beginning. I heard it from the day I was born, beginning with Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Just as most people don’t remember when they learned to speak, I don’t remember when I learned to make music. The act of performing music came entirely naturally to me. My first interest is music, then comes the piano. I always enjoyed music more than anything else, so I always wanted to make it my career.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Most important were probably my piano teachers: Lea Agmon and Yuval Cohen. My recent musical thinking has been heavily influenced by several workshops I attended with Leon Fleischer.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The greatest challenge has always been keeping up with my ever increasing standards. Today I’m highly critical of recordings that once seemed to me stellar artistic achievements.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
In general, the performance I’m most proud of is my last one. But this ties in with the previous question. As my expectations of myself increase every day, performances I used to be proud of a few years ago strike me differently today.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
The composer to whom I feel closest at the moment is Beethoven. I played his works extensively, including solo works for the piano (like the cycle of the last three sonatas), chamber works, and concertos. I don’t want to create the impression that I’m specialising. In the next two recitals I’ll be playing in London are works by Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy, and Ravel – and not a piece by Beethoven.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I don’t have any guidelines for making repertoire choices, and I tend to avoid programming pieces with some common factor – a recital of “last sonatas” for example (I realise these clever extra-musical organising principles are quite fashionable today…) My programs consist of selections of compositions I’m working on at the moment. My only guideline is that the programs be balanced and make sense in musical terms.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I haven’t performed at enough venues to say which one is my favourite. Generally, I like venues with an intimate atmosphere, where there is an easy and sympathetic give and take between performer and audience. This is why, among others, I don’t do competitions, where the mood in the hall is judgemental and potentially negative.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I find myself nowadays listening more and more to music that is not for the piano. I very much enjoy opera, chamber music and symphonic works. My favourite pieces to perform change all the time. Right now they probably include the works of Beethoven, among many others…
Who are your favourite musicians?
I cannot say. I don’t rank and I don’t think in ranking terms. Moreover, they are simply too many to list…
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The one that is yet to come.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I don’t have a set of aphorisms at hand. My advice is to be curious and open to new ideas, both musical and cultural, and to question generic advice. (I don’t think the next Richter will come from reading my blog.)
What are you working on at the moment?
I am preparing three recital programs I’ll be playing in London in the coming months. In addition, I am working on my concerto repertoire (Brahms, at the moment) and on a mass of chamber music I’m playing with different ensembles.
What is your most treasured possession?
A wonderful coffee machine. My mother got it as a New Year’s present, but I’m its primary employer.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Writing blogs?.. (Not really, although it is a form of relaxation and it forces me to clarify issues I haven’t given enough thought to.)
Ariel Lanyi will play at St Giles Cripplegate, London, on 21st May. Tickets are available from http://www.arielpiano.com or by phone on 0333 666 3366 (a fee of £1.50 applies to phone bookings)
Ariel has been playing since the age of 4, and gave his orchestral debut at the age of 7. He now plays extensively throughout Europe and in his home country Israel – including recitals at the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Young Prague Festival, Radio France’s ‘Jeunes Interprètes’ series and St James’s Piccadilly in London. He will finish his studies at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music in the Summer of 2015 and will take up a place at London’s Royal Academy of Music in September 2015.