Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
It might sound weird, but music itself guided me to become a professional musician. As a child and teenager, I lived in my own world and spending time playing and listening to music was my favourite activity. It was much later – around my 15th or 16th birthday – when I realized pursuing a different career would equal spending less time with music and that was no option for me. You could say I was naÏve enough to think you could just choose a life. With time I learned that you have to make your way first.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Without doubt the people I love – my parents, my sister and my wife. They supported me from early on and without them I would not have had the luxury of mainly focusing on music. As a musician, I’m convinced it’s impossible to fully seperate the professional from the private parts of life. It’s interwoven and therefore I don’t like to call a vocation a career.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I’ve always believed in doing what I love and avoiding the things I don’t like as much as possible. Music has become such a big part of myself; therefore certain elements such as competitions never fit with my perspective on it.
The greatest challenge is, consequently, to stay true to yourself and to keep in touch with your instinct, especially in our noisy, stressful and competitive world.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
This is impossible to define, because my assessment constantly changes. When I record I have the exact version in mind and I want to believe it is set in stone and made for eternity. However I have learned that even after a few months my concept has evolved and the recording is not up to date any more. The same applies to live recordings or performances. At first it frightened me, but thinking about it now, isn’t change the only true certainty we know?
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
That I can’t decide. All I know is that my interest and passion are generated by the works I play or record. It’s hard to choose favourites, because music is too diverse and too dependent on mood and many other parameters.
I feel a strong affinity for Alexander Scriabin and also Franz Liszt, but that doesn’t mean I don’t equally enjoy Scarlatti, Ravel, Yun or Brahms.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I love compiling recital programmes, creating a proper ‘menu for the ears’. Proportion, variation, dimension and relations in between the works chosen make such a big difference. Sometimes promoters engage me for certain works desired and some other times they like my suggestions. It’s very much a fluctuating thing.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I love the Wigmore Hall, like so many other musicians do. Venues with a rich history usually fascinate me, but there is a few, partly modern concert halls I enjoy very much, such as the Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Maison Symphonique in Montréal or the wonderful Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
A great venue is more than just good acoustics – it’s atmosphere, surroundings, spirit and architecture.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
There are many memorable experiences on stage. Alongside the highlights, such as sharing the stage with close friends or living legends such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin there is a series of exceptional incidents I encountered so far: Medical emergencies on or off stage, pets smuggled into concert halls or drunk promoters involuntarily popping up live on stage…
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Success is when you achieve separating your self-worth as a person from the satisfaction with your performance. I strongly believe you can only remain independent and free if you don’t allow your personal approach on music to be commercialized.
It’s a lot harder to achieve than it sounds.
Joseph Moog’s ability to combine exquisite technical skill with a mature and intelligent musicality set him apart as a pianist of exceptional diversity. A champion of the well-known masterworks as well as a true advocate of rare and forgotten repertoire paired with his quality to compose and arrange, Joseph was awarded the accolade of Gramophone Young Artist of the Year 2015 and was also nominated for the GRAMMY in 2016.
(artist photo: Askonas Holt)