'I believe that every decent composer deserves a festival," smiles Israeli pianist Daniel Gortler. "And above all - Schubert." This week, he appears in every concert of the Schubertiada - a mini-festival of Franz Schubert's music, which is taking place in various locales throughout the country; it began January 31 and runs through February 9. Gortler, 42, manages to combine a successful international career with concerts and teaching at home. The charismatic musician has collaborated with renowned conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas and Yoel Levi. He regularly performs chamber music with baritone Bo Skovhus, violinists Nikolaj Znaider and David Garrett and cellist Steven Isserlis. "The competition in the world of classical music is fierce, especially for the younger generation," says the pianist as he rests between rehearsals for the Schubertiada's opening night. "You don't even speak about the technique; to keep afloat, one needs to offer something above it, an individual style and interpretation - an ability to express and to project emotions to the public in the concert hall. Nowadays, with so many quality musicians around, even good management is not enough. Personal contact with conductors and orchestras are important. You just need to remind them of your existence." Switching to the Schubertiada, Gortler explains how he can't get enough of Schubert. "His brief life was totally dedicated to the music, he wrote it from morning till night and then his friends used to come and they played it together. He left behind a few possessions and about 1,000 pieces." Schubert's music is "a rare combination of the most beautiful melodies with a very complicated and sophisticated structure, which is so masterly built that listeners more often than not are simply unaware of it, but just follow him in this musical journey. In his Lieder, the music and the word interweave into amazing fabric, with piano and soloists as equal partners in music making." Gortler goes on. "Naturally, I can speak only about his piano music; I do not think that there are many ways of playing Schubert... If you take any great performer, such as Lupu, Perahia, Brendel - they are all very much alike: sound, fantasy, sensitivity. And I think it's good. Because it can be either wonderful or no good at all." The first Schubertiada concert at the Einav Culture Center in Tel Aviv opened with almost four hours of Schubert's chamber pieces, presenting various facets of his music. Gortler played with elegance and tact; soprano Sharon Rostorf Zamir emerged as an intellectual singer; violinist Yael Barolsky was hypnotizing in sonatina for Violin and Piano in G minor; while Yaron Prensky, Raz Cohen and Gortler offered a dramatic rendition of Piano Trio in E flat Major Op. 100. Yossi Schiffmann was at his best presenting the program and creating an atmosphere appropriate to the event. The remaining Schubertiada concerts will take place at Beit Gabriel near the Kinneret on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., at Kibbutz Eilon concert hall on Friday at 9 p.m. and on Saturday at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center at 11:00 a.m.