Israel Philharmonic Orchestra 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
‘That was the highlight of my festival,” says violinist Julian Rachlin with a
somewhat mischievous smile as he takes a rest in the lobby of Tel Aviv’s Hilton
Hotel. Here (again) to perform the Brahms violin concerto with the Israel
Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda, Rachlin is referring to his Julian Rachlin
and Friends annual festival in Dubrovnik, particularly The Music Critic
“The idea belongs to my friend violinist Aleksey Igudesman, but I
have contributed to it, too. John Malkovich, with his ‘evil incarnate’ looks,
read the most scathing reviews written about what later turned out to be great
music, and then excerpts of it were performed.
Luckily, at the last
minute we found a terrible review about Malkovich himself in a Turkish
newspaper, and Igudesman composed an Oriental style piece of music, and that was
a hit!” Getting serious, he adds: “But it was not about making fun of critics
but rather to show that we all are able to serve music in our own
And if we do it well, we may be remembered.”
that although inside he feels the same as in his youth, he is not a boy
“Look, I’m 37 with 24 years on the professional concert stage
behind me, and this is a great age. Because when you’re young, you’re nothing’
You have to work hard to prove that you’re worth something. And now you don’t
need to prove anything.
You can just perform a Brahms or Beethoven
concerto in the evening, exercise a bit to keep yourself in good shape, and
enjoy your life the rest of the time. But that is not for me!” he
“I conduct orchestras – but not too many. I think I should limit
myself so I don’t lose the quality of the music making, adding only two new
pieces every year to my repertoire. And I collaborate with composers, such as
Israeli Avner Dorman or American Lera Auerbach. I am so happy and proud that
composers always send me their music, and Penderecky has dedicated his new
double concerto to me, which I am about to premiere in Vienna. I make it a point
to commission music to composers, and I have found financial support for these
projects. So I hope that under these conditions, there is a good chance that
great concerti and chamber pieces can be born.
Cooperation with composers
is very engaging, but we need to suit one another; the music has to be the kind
that allows me to pour my soul out.
For me, the pyramid is quite obvious,
with the composer at the top. But composers often say, ‘No, our music is dead
without you. We would love you to share your ideas and suggestions with us,’” he
“Above all, there is a lot of meticulous work behind the
preparation of new pieces before you start breathing the composer’s language and
style. But again, when you return to the traditional repertoire after performing
contemporary music, you reveal new aspects of it.”
He sums up: “This is
all a question of philosophy – how much of your life you are prepared to
dedicate to music. Look, should I brag that I played with the Cleveland Symphony
for the first time? This is a fantastic orchestra, but for me what really
matters are the new things that I do.”
Rachlin stresses that he dedicates
part of his time trying “to give a chance for a better life to the kids
throughout the planet who, unlike us, were not born on the sunny side of the
world,” as he defines his position as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador – an occupation
that really suits this attentive, warmhearted man.
Then the conversation
returns to the essence of his life, which is music.
So what maturity is
about for Rachlin? “Many things. When somebody tells me that I am a wonderful
violinist, this compliment, considering my age, does not make any sense for
What is important is to become a better musician, which includes many
things and not especially what particular instrument I am playing because as a
child I wanted to play the cello. It is about serving the music in the best
possible way, about a better understanding of music, about passing your
accumulated knowledge on to the younger generation (I often take my students on
tour with me to show them the real life of a soloist) and my voluntary work.
With so many interests in your life, you have to constantly redefine your
limitations to not make yourself ridiculous!” Julian Rachlin performs the Brahms
concerto with the IPO under Gianandrea Noseda on February 3 and 4 in Tel Aviv
and February 5 in Haifa. He will return for an extensive chamber music program
at The Buchmann Mehta School of Music in March.