The musical ties that bind

Israeli-born pianist and conductor David Greilsammer blends the works of Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage, written some 200 years apart.

December 28, 2016 21:48
3 minute read.
‘I CONNECT to these artists because it’s very important to me also to invent... A lot of time we loo

‘I CONNECT to these artists because it’s very important to me also to invent... A lot of time we look at things and see that there’s no connection, but if we dig a bit deeper, we discover amazing worlds,’ says musician David Greilsammer.. (photo credit: JULIEN MIGNOT)


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Aside from both being composers, there appears to be no connection between Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage. One was born in Spain in the Baroque era while the other came of age in the modern milieu of American classical music. Yet David Greilsammer finds an undeniable and inspiring link between the two.

“For several years, I played concerts sometimes of one (Scarlatti) and sometimes of another (Cage) with no connection. There was nothing special about it. I just knew both their music because I played them.

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One day, about four or five years ago, it suddenly hit me that there were these amazing shared attributes between them.

I decided to create a recital program to connect the two very clearly and the result is this concert,” says Greilsammer.

The pianist will perform Scarlatti:- Cage:Sonatas tonight at the Elma Hotel in Zichron Ya’acov. The performance boasts three bodies on stage – Greilsammer’s, a recorder and a prepared piano, which has been specially tinkered with to suit Cage’s compositions.

“It’s an hour of concert with no break.

I play the whole time. The creations go one after the other, Cage, Scarlatti, Cage, Scarlatti, so that the audience can hear all the things they have in common,” he explains.

“The things that these two composers have in common are very strong, even if they can’t be guessed initially. They both were composers that were not connected to their time. Scarlatti lived in the Baroque period. There were very specific rules of how to do things then; a Baroque piece had to be built in a certain way, yet Scarlatti did things as he liked without worrying about what people would say. He was ahead of his time completely. John Cage is the same. He was very experimental. He wanted to invent sounds, to create new ideas. Even though they lived centuries apart from one another, their experimentalism links them. You can really hear it when you play them one after the other.

You can hear the desire to go further, to invent something new.”

The Israeli-born musician and conductor arrived in the country earlier this week from his home base in Switzerland, where he serves as the Music and Artistic Director of the Geneva Camerata. At 39, Greilsammer has crunched 50 years of work into 20. His career path, which includes performing as a pianist, conducting and recording, has had hurricane force, taking him from Jerusalem to New York City and throughout Europe.

Scarlatti:Cage:Sonatas emerged from deep within Greilsammer’s musical sensibility.

“I connect to these artists because it’s very important to me also to invent,” he says.

“The classical world is built of a lot of conventions and rules, leaning on a long past and prestige and saying how great the past was. Things move forward, but the classical world has a constant respect for the past. I think this is the type of concert that has other ideas than those that are regularly served to the audience.

“It is not about the past, even though there are pieces played from the past in the recital. I express something that is connected to the reality around us. Everyone can say that these composers didn’t meet, but there’s an important statement here in my opinion. It’s very personal and important and doesn’t exist in other recitals. A lot of time we look at things and see that there’s no connection, but if we dig a bit deeper, we discover amazing worlds.”

For more information about the concert, visit For more about David Greilsammer, visit www.davidgreilsammer.


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