Tribute to Friedrich Gulda

 

Sometimes, when we go into someone’s creative activity which is unique in our minds, we wish to meet him in person or at least to see him somewhere giving his performance. I wish I could see one of Friedrich Gulda’s concerts. Unfortunately, he died ten years ago; unfortunately I only discovered him on youtube this year.

I remember it was quite accidental; I found Mozart’s Concerto 20 in d and just listened to the music without watching the clip. It sounded very skilful and I would be lying if I said that it didn’t charm me. Later I casually played the clip again and realized what was going on there. Anyway, if I had a set of false teeth they would have fallen out; I saw a crazily dressed man in a little yellow hat and black jumper. He was also wearing a talisman which was rather unrecognisable for me. It was Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000), the Austrian pianist. But it wasn’t his unconventional clothes that absorbed my attention; it was his performing – he was conducting the orchestra and at the same time playing the concert on the main instrument, the piano. In some moments he was playing with his right hand while conducting with his left hand. He played and conducted with all of his body; he was immersing himself in the music and sailing in his own expanse. I have never seen such an astonishing performance in my life.

There are not many online sources concerning Friedrich Gulda. Obviously, a quite extensive article about his life and his works of art can be found in Wikipedia, but as we all know, this source is not very reliable. Also, there are very similar articles about this artist at http://www.allmusic.com or at http://www.bach-cantatas.com. According to these materials Gulda’s nickname was ‘terrorist pianist’, because he refused ‘to follow clothing conventions or scheduled concert programmes’.

Friedrich Gulda was popular because of his original interpretations of Bach, Chopin, Ravel or Mozart. He was also a big fan of jazz and wrote several songs which were connections between classical music and jazz; among other things, he composed Variations on The Doors’ Light My Fire.’

The artist died on January 27, 2000, on the day of the composer’s birthday he admired most– Mozart’s. I wish I could see one of Gulda’s performances. Anyway, now I’m going find his interpretation of Someday My Prince Will Come, as I really like this piece in original performance.


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