Richard Friedman, violinist

Who or what inspired you to take up the violin, and pursue a career in music?
My Father, the violinist Leonard Friedman

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My parents, my mother as a pianist and my father.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The stamina required to do an extended series of Tchaikovsky Swanlakes and Sleeping Beauties as leader was formidable.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
The recordings of the Bach double with my father, the Beethoven piano trios with my piano trio, Mahler’s 5th Symphony for solo instruments and Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending with Ross Pople conducting The London Festival orchestra.

Which particular works do you think you play best?
Beethoven piano trios and chamber reductions of large scale works by Mahler [early symphonies and Das Lied von der Erde].

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It has depended on which groups I’ve been working with. At the present I concentrate on commissions for my new ensemble.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
New Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh. Many fond memories of playing both piano trios there and also playing with my father in The Scottish Baroque Ensemble over a period of ten years

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Virtually all Bach to listen to, The Bach solo violin works to play and most of the Mozart operas to listen to.

Who are your favourite musicians?
Jascha Heifetz, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Schwartzkopf and Frirz Kreisler

What is your most memorable concert experience?
When I was eighteen I played with my father on stage in Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ with Daniel Barenboim conducting the English Chamber Orchestra with Peter Ustinov directing. [Jacquline Du Pre was supportive during rehearsals].

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Keep listening and allow what you say to be personal. Or putting it another way, ‘use your ears and your heart’. Also, take a break if joy is not happening enough.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
With my family.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in a mental and physical state where problems and struggles invigorate rather than inhibit.

What is your most treasured possession?
My violin

What do you enjoy doing most?
Listening to all kinds of music, playing bridge with my mother and being with my whole family.
Richard Friedman leads the Beecham Orchestra in their launch concert at Cadogan Hall on Tuesday 4th April. Details here
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