Rebekka Hartmann, by now a friend of the Romanian public and of the Camerata Regală, talks about the connection with baroque music, her teachers, the orchestra, the public and her mom.
Christmas is approaching very fast and, even if there is no snow or cold weather, the spirit of the holidays is all around us. Concerts, stories, festivals of markets – all bear the signs of this special moment of the year, the time of family gatherings, of recollecting with ourselves and of building peace and trust.
I was lucky enough to attend the concert of Camerata Regală, where the orchestra played various Christmas carols, both national and international, arranged by Dan Dediu. Soloist was Rebekka Hartmann, by now a friend of the Romanian public and of the Camerata. The audience enjoyed the musical pieces, which created a really heavenly atmosphere, especially when the Children Choir Radio started singing a well known carol dedicated to Santa Claus.
After the concert, when I was still under the effects of the magic produced on the stage, I had the chance to meet and talk to Rebekka. She was so joyous and happy, full of energy and positive vibes. I couldn’t resist and told her that we can already adopt her here in Romania, because she was very authentic while playing the Romanian carols and she was very glad to hear that.
Rebekka Hartmann was born in Munchen, Germany, and started playing the violin when she was 5. Rebekka studied in Los Angeles and in Germany, took part in various competitions and played on different stages of the world. All the success in her career kept her joyful spirit, while enriching her experience. The discussion that we had was very meaningful and with sparkles of happiness, just as Rebekka Hartmann seems to be.
You started playing the violin when you were 5 years old. Do you have any musical history in your family?
This is actually a wonderful question, because till about three months ago, I did not know that there were musicians in my family. I always thought that there’s no musician in my family. My mom died four years ago and about three months ago, when I was talking with my father over a glass of white wine, he asked me whether I knew why was I so musical. I replied that I did not know and then he told me that my grandfather, the father of my mother, was a folkloric violinist. I was very surprised, because nobody ever told me. Now I know that he was very famous in the area where he lived. He was Bosnian-Serbian and he lived near Doboj, which is not far from Sarajevo. And that’s fantastic.
So you have it in your blood!
It seems like it. My mom was a surgery nurse; my father is a real-estate agent. And they never played. My father played the drums in the military and that’s it.
You were a student on both sides of the Atlantic, both in Germany and in USA. How do the two schools differ in relation to the artistic development?
I do not want to say much about this. I just want to point out that when I studied in Los Angeles, it was fantastic for me. I know that studying in America is so much better actually. Of course, you pay big amounts to study there and a lot of people cannot afford it. But it’s worth it; you also have a general education next to music. You can study psychology, philosophy, math or religion. And this is fantastic, because you are not limited, you are open to everything and everybody is very focused. In Germany, a lot of students don’t go to classes, because it’s not worth it. They don’t pay for school and they lay in bed all day. Except for the ones who are passionate, because they follow their passion and do other wonderful things, apart from sitting in the classes and hearing uninteresting stuff.
You took part in different classes with various professors. Which were the lessons that you have learnt throughout all these years and you would like to pass on to your students?
I would say that every teacher that I had was a mosaic stone in my life and I learnt so much every time. I can’t even say that I learnt more or less with someone, they were all very very good. There is one very dear friend of mine, my best friend. He follows my life since I was 14 and I had lessons both before and after studying in LA. He’s my main teacher and I would say that I learnt so much with him. His name is Josef Kroner and he has an orchestra in Germany with which I am collaborating both as soloist and as a member. He is very inspiring.
During your career, you played on various stages of the world, both in concerts and in competitions. Please tell us how do you feel on the stage and which are the differences that you perceive when you are in a competition and when you are in a regular concert?
The thing is that in the competitions there is a lot of pressure and the judges are looking only for mistakes. Of course I did it a lot of times, but it is a very uncomfortable thing to play in front of judges. But I learnt a lot from it, because when you do a competition, you have a big program that you have to learn: two concertos, sonatas, solo pieces, Paganini Caprices etc. So you learn a lot, but I prefer playing in front of audiences at concerts, because that’s much more inspiring. You are freer, you can enjoy, you can produce miracles, if it happens. It’s much better like that.
This is not your first time in Romania.
Indeed, this is my forth time in Romania. First, at the Romanian Atheneum, in 2013, I played with the flutist Ion Bogdan Ștefănescu and Camerata Regală the Seasons by Vivaldi (me) and Piazzolla (him). The second concerto was in Sibiu, where I also played the Vivaldi Seasons. And the third one was at George Enescu Festival, this year, where I worked again with Camerata and we played both Vivaldi’ and Piazzolla’s Seasons.
How is your collaboration with Camerata Regală. How are the people here?
It’s wonderful. They are very much friends of mine already. They’re not colleagues, they’re friends. It’s a fantastic relationship between all of them. That’s also a wonderful basis for doing music together, because we support each other. It’s fun and inspiring. The musicians here are fantastic, they are very passionate, there’s so much joy and emotion about music. Nothing is just played, everything is lived. I am also trying to live every note, that was always my goal. And with them it’s happening.
I saw that connection and the people in the audience also noticed the absence of conductor…
But we don’t need that. We are very connected. It was fantastic.
I have a curiosity. I saw that two of your CDs include interpretations of baroque music. How did you choose the pieces? Is there a special connection between you and the early pieces for violin?
I am really in love with baroque music. From this period, every other music which came after grew. Everything came from there, it was the beginning, especially for violin music. On my second CD, I played music all around Bach, but not Bach. That period was the beginning of the violin solo sonata. I learnt so much about that period. Before Bach, there was already so much there. Of course, Bach was a genius, a miracle. Whatever happened before was also wonderful and I just love this music so much. It gave and gives me so much. I have 4 CDs, but the first two are with Bach and all the baroque music. I adore that music and I don’t know why, but I feel home when I play it.
If you were to put your life on a musical piece which one would you choose and why? Does it bring back memories, is it from one of your favorites composers or does the sound reflects your personality?
Well, I know exactly what piece it would be. I have a very big connection with my mom, I’ve always had it. It’s Chaconne by Bach. I’m connecting so much with it. Every variation shows a face of the life of my mom and me. It’s a big piece and I adore it. I think it’s one of the biggest pieces written for violin solo. I don’t even dare to say it’s like me. I just feel so connected with this music and I love it so much. I can feel myself in there, with my mom especially. This piece is recorded on my first CD, but now I play it differently, because I grew and because I lost my mom. My interpretation evolved.