Who or what inspired you to take up the accordion and pursue a career in music?
I started playing the accordion quite late, when I was 11 and I began attending one of the national schools in Poland where I am from. I soon realised that this is what I wanted to do in my life. I was very lucky to have amazing teachers who were also great human beings so that helped me a lot in my decisions.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I cannot name a single person in my musical career who has been the most important to me. I tend to take inspiration from everyone I have come across or worked with. My teacher Owen Murray from the Royal Academy of Music is one of them, for example, as someone who showed me the importance of sound quality.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think that maintaining the artistic vision in every concert is the biggest challenge but I think this problem touches most artists.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
It is very hard to name them as every performance is special for me and I try to give my best in each of them. If I have to choose one it would have to be my performance of Concerto Classico by Mikolaj Majkusiak for accordion and symphony orchestra in Vienna or my first album “Encuentro” with my group, the Deco Ensemble.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I love to play classical contemporary works for accordion and I think that is the most natural repertoire in classical music for accordion nowadays. But, I enjoy playing all different styles of music as it helps to develop your musical taste.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
My choices are based on my new discoveries. I love to go for the pieces or transcriptions which are not very popular or completely new.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I think the Wigmore Hall is one of my favourite venues because of the acoustics. Also Studio S1 of Polish Radio is outstanding. I am also really looking forward to playing at the Wallace Collection for the first time as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency on 28th July.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Works by Gubaidulina are my favourite to perform and Chopin to listen to.
Playing Chopin on the accordion would be one of the biggest mistakes possible.
Who are your favourite musicians?
My favourite musicians are the ones who I work with as I am often very lucky to meet people who are very talented but, more importantly, are nice people to work with. I think is really important. From the musical legends my favourites are Vladimir Horowitz, the great jazz pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, and Paco de Lucia.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I remember playing for one of the political institutions in Brussels during an exhibition of pictures on the martology of Eastern Europe. I did not want to spoil the institution but the organisers asked me to play one of pieces in my repertoire called The Gulag Archipelago based on Solzhenitsyn’s book. Unfortunately, straight after the performance, the audience were supposed to move to the area where the post event reception was meant to take place. However, most of the audience went there after I started playing. I thought that it was a very bad concert experience until one lady came to my dressing room crying and explaining that her family went through the Gulag prisons and how touched she was.
We went for coffee together and she told me a lot of incredible stories from her life which were absolutely inspiring. Those kind of moments compensate for all the bad experiences in a musician’s life.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would have to say it is the concept of musical journey in the concert which the musician can reflect on.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
The word “perfect” should be completely erased from any language as there is no such thing in real life. For me happiness should be balanced between what you do, who you do it with and how you do it. Having a lovely family, doing a lot of concerts with my artistic vision and being able to enjoy life is as close to perfect as it can get in my opinion. Finding this balance in real life situation is the hardest bit.
Accordionist Bartosz Glowacki performs works by Scarlatti, Arvo Pärt, Trojan, Makkonen, Semionov and Piazzolla on Thursday 28th July as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency at the Wallace Collection 25-29th July. More details here
City Music Foundation’s mission is to turn exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians at the outset of their careers with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to pursue music as a viable and rewarding livelihood.