Oliver talks about why classical music should be played more often outside of concert venues and why music should get rid of the boundaries and how to write emotionally touching music
Music means a lot to me. I take it as an inseparable part of my everyday’s life. I can’t imagine my life without music. Even when I’m not composing or playing, I’m thinking about it. Of course, not all the time, because you just want to make space for other things in your life as well, but music definitely plays a very significant role in my life. To me, music is the deepest of all kinds of art. It can touch your feelings in a way that no other art really can. It’s something untouchable, ethereal, and with endless possibilities. I must say that sometimes I even think that music is a living element just like water or fire. The way it connects to people is nothing short of a miracle. If there are such things as miracles, then music is one of them.
Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?
Yes I agree that music is for the most part of it, about the fantasy and imagination. Or shall I say, it’s a product of the fantasy and imagination. Music can very well reflect the thoughts, imaginations and feelings of a person who composed it, or even evoke the feelings and imaginations to the listener or the player. Music to me, is a very colorful, endless world of sounds. I don’t believe that music can be as much of an exact science such as maths or physics, althought It is closely related to both. You can have the rules to make a beautiful music, but you can also break the rules however you want and when you want, that’s just on your imagination. Who sets the rules anyway?
If you were not a professional musician, would you have been?
That’s a good question…I would propably still do some kind of art. I always loved to make clay or polymer clay sculptures, that´s still my hobby. My both sisters are very talented painters, so the art is something that is heavily present in our family. But if it wasn´t any kind of art then It would be something adventurous maybe. Or maybe an astronomer or astrophysician as I was always fascinated by the universe.
The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?
I’m not worried all that much, I don’t even think about it very much. Yes, maybe classical music audience is getting old, but I think that film music-being one of the sub-genres of classical music(in many cases), is still having it’s golden era, and nowadays videogame music is almost the same, it’s a whole new field and world. As far as I know, people love to listen to the movie soundtracks. I’m from Slovakia and the concerts of Ennio Morricone or Hans Zimmer here, have been all sold out stadiums! So I think that people still love classical music and still have a deep respect for the genre, it’s just that some of the composition ways of the 20th century are harder to relate to for the audiences. We are living in the era of the internet and music streaming services, so the young generation now has unlimited access to any music they like, and they can have it for free. And as a part of this young generation, I have to adapt. So I’m using the streaming services, internet radios and social networks for the promo of my music, also the live performances...But my music in general, is rather easy to relate to. I’m not a very avant garde oriented musician and composer. I often get very nice feedback even from the people who never really listened to classical music before. I try to make sure that my music is easy and understandable for everyone, but not primitive.I also make sure that it’s colorful enough to be interesting for me too, because I want to listen to my piece and say „hey, that’s good!” I would say that it bends to film music a lot. So in this case I’m not worried, maybe classical music is not having it’s golden era, but it’s time to find ways to reach out to the new audiences! And also I’m composing a lot of different genres, including pop, rock, jazz, videogame music, film music etc. so that’s why I don’t stress too much about the future.
What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see
that there is a transformation of this role?
I think noone really defined the classical music of the 21st century yet. So everyone wonders, what it will be about. Where else to go? What will be the characteristic features of the 21st century classical music? I still think that even though so many things have already been tried, there’s still so much yet to be discovered. But in my case, I don’t really try to find any brand new compositional techniques. Instead, I try to find the the way to express myself in the old ways. I feel like there’s so much more to say this way, so much more melodies and combinations of harmonies and melodies. I don’t really think you can run out of ideas just using what has already been discovered. There are some melodies and harmonies that tend to be more moving to you, than anything else you’ve ever heard before and It will be always like that to me. People still need new music that will move them and which would be something they can easily relate to. You know that feeling when you hear a beautiful song or simply a piece of music you become addicted to, you want to listen to it all over again and you wish there were more songs or pieces like that, because you’ve over-listened the old one. And this is what I’m interested in. To give people the old music, processed through my feelings and thoughts, with new melodies and new original touch. But I think that just for the sake of being curious, I wonder what would it be like if composers try different tunings of the Instruments, that would be interesting to hear. What If we completely abandon the structural part of music and stop pretending that it’s as exact as maths? I also sometimes think that there’s so much more to do with rythm. Why does it have to be so exact? Why not stretching the beats for however long you feel like, and be very expressive without the timing limitation? I can see this could be a problem with ensembles, to get more people play this way, because everyone feels the beat in a different way. I mean rhytmically it would be something like in the nature. I have something going in my head, maybe I’ll try to record something like that just by myself to see how it works, because I’m used to catch up with myself without the metronome or an exact tempo. So I’m really curious of what the 21st century classical music will sound like, and who will be the pioneer of the new direction, but it’s important to me not to forget about who do we compose music for. If it’s music for the people, then we need to follow their needs. If it’s for ourselves, then we don’t expect to be paid by doing so, because it’s almost like an art just for the art.
When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is
getting a new face, what would come to your mind?
I just realized that I probably partly answered on this question in my response for the previous one haha. However, I think that either way the classical music of the 21st century goes, it will be heavily influenced by all of the great variety of genres that started their existence in the 20th century and earlier, because we are all influenced by it. We grew up listening to such music and so our musical thoughts naturally go that direction even if we try to change something intentionally. But i can imagine where else to go with classical music as I mentioned in the previous question.
Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? Whats the
role of creativity in the musical process for you?
Yes I think we all should try to be more creative. But what does this creativity mean? It means a different thing for everyone. If being more creative means something what Schoenberg did for example, then I don’t think people need such creativity all that much as the history has shown...I mean, I respect what he did, he has shown a new musical way to the generations to come and changed classical music in a big way, but I personally think that this music is not very popular for many people. It deserves respect, but to me it’s not something that can emotionally touch you and make you fly, though, he propably didn’t mean to do that at all, his goal was different…But if being more creative means not to set constructional boundaries and just pay more attention to the beauty of the simplicity, melody and the moments, then yes, we all should be more creative. How often do we ask ourselves „isn’t this too simple?“ or „isn’t this too cheesy? What would my colleagues say about it?“ I think we ask that too often. We should be more creative instead and get rid of these boundaries. I think creativity is an interesting thing. Anything can spark your creativity. To me, it varies from piece to piece. Sometimes I sit to my piano and start to play something, and the creativity suddenly hits me and something nice results from that. Sometimes, there’s something playing in my head and i record it to my dictaphone when I’m walking by and then work on it...sometimes there’s music I like which inspires me to write something like it...I also get inspired by the nature, surroundings, situations, relationships, words, moments, feelings....anything can spark my imagination and creativity. And I’m also obsessed by the sea/ocean or the universe, because they seem to be infinite and that’s an undrainable source of creativity to me.
Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the
classical music concerts? How will you proceed?
I feel like a part of the young generation of people since I’m 25 years old, but if we mean to attract the very young people, or people younger than me, I think we should try to understand why don’t they attend classical music concerts in the first place. To me, I grew up watching Tom&Jerry cartoons that especially my sister loved to watch. And there was plenty of classical music all around. That’s where I first heard “Hungarian Rhapsody” by Franz Liszt, “Sleeping beauty” by Tchaikovsky, “Carmen” by Bizet, and the list goes on. Also there were much more cartoons with lots of classical music in it, and then also movies an so…So as a kid, this was my first contact with classical music. And when you’re a kid, you get used to this and develop a kind of liking of that kind of music. And later, I somehow found my way to the classical music again, because I had these great memories of it from childhood and I simply loved the colorful world of classical music. So I think that we should somehow try to playfully show this music to the kids and young audiences. It should get a more mainstream media promo in a similar way that Hans Zimmer or Ennio Morricone had for their world tours, because even people who never attended any classical music concert before, were attending. Of course it´s a bit different situation because people associate their music with their favourite movies and so it´s easier that way, but still…I think that André Rieu does a great job with attracting many people to his concerts, even younger ones. Some people complain about the way he does it, but I don´t really see why. He does everything it gets to attract more people to listen to the classical music. And with new original music, for example take Ludovico Einaudi or Yiruma. They are both very popular also amongst the young people. They aren´t very popular amongst many classical musicians or composers, but again I don´t see why. I can see so many young people touching the piano just to learn to play “River flows in you”. Is that a bad thing? Hell no! It is a piano piece that speaks loudly to the young audiences and it makes the young people want to play the piano and go to see his concert. And once they develop this love for piano music, they are very likely to discover the music of Chopin, Debussy or Liszt…and then they will propably search further and discover symphonic music etc. so….there definitely are ways to attract new audiences, we just have to look for it. By the way I also think that classical music should be played more frequently even outside the noble concert halls. If the young people don´t go to see the concert, then why don´t we go closer to them?
Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favourite piece (written by you)
How did you start working on it?
Haha good question! I have more favourites amongst my pieces, but If i really have to choose one, it would propably be „Ballerina“ which is also the title piece for my upcoming piano album. „Impression“ is the highest ranked in the prestigious international contests like for example the UK songwriting contest(2x Finalist in the instrumental cathegory) but I would still pick „Ballerina“. With Ballerina, I was sitting at the piano, playing around, and trying to compose a new piece of music and suddenly I got a melody and I thought It´s good enough to be further developed, so I was looking for the right harmonies to accompany the melody and when I was done with the main melody, I simply followed my instincts thgoughout the piece to make an equally good 2nd half. I was patient with this one. If I´m not forced to do something really fast, I usually take time to finish something. I compose more pieces at the same time and always get back to the one another after a short break to see what I´ve written before and see if I still like it, or I´ll change something. So it took me a couple of months to be fully satisfied. Like I said before, If i have to compose something really fast, I will do it, but If i have time, then I don´t hurry. I struggled to find a title for the piece so I was asking my family and friends and my mom once pointed out that one part of the composition reminded her of a ballerina dancing, so I thought it would be just nice to name the piece „Ballerina“. Sometimes it´s harder to find a title for the piece, then to compose it. I always desired to write something that many people would love to play or listen to, something really memorable and moving, and I hope I succeeded with „Ballerina“.
We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different
disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art,
music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?
I love the combination of music with other arts. I personally have been fortunate enough to try some of these. I worked for Pixel Federation company who is a major developer of online computer games, and I composed the soundtrack for their game Emporea:Realms of war & magic. It was a very nice experience since the game has 4 different races(Elves,Dwarves,Orcs,Undead) and I composed 4 tracks for each one of them. I also tried the combination with paintings and poetry at the same time, with a Slovak painter Barbara Prešinská, or I also tried the combination with the live reading of a literature, with a Slovak film director Jaro Rihák. I would personally love to try to compose for movies, that´s something I would really love to do in the future.
Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for
If i could advise some great classical music composers of the past, It would definitely be Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Fauré, Debussy, Satie, Mussorgsky, Chopin, Liszt, Bizet and the list goes on...They are all time greats and the treasure they left for us is simply wonderful.
Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting
into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and
demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do
you see it?
I´m not really sure what to think about that. I´m new in this business and I´m trying to find my way through. It´s true that people like Ludovico Einaudi for example, are getting the Classical music to the consumption business because it´s very well promoted and people love it and buy tons of his albums and he sells his concerts out. And there are more cases like him. And we also live in the era of internet and streaming so there´s another platform for the Classical music aswell. I think people still love classical music, and if it´s really true that it´s finding it´s way through to the consumption business then it´s great. But I don´t really know yet. I´m about to release my piano album „Ballerina“ soon, so I will see how it goes. I will also use many streaming services and internet promo just to get it to the people online. And of course, selling the CD in stores. And if the „supply and demand“ refers also to the projects that need music for it like movies or videogames, then it´s great too, because it´s just another way how to get the Classical music to the new audiences.
Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?
I thank so much to everyone who is willing to listen to my music or buy my music, so that´s the most precious thing i can expect from the listeners, thank you all so much.
What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?
I just finished the recordning of my piano album „Ballerina“ which will contain 10 my original compositions and 1 very interesting collaboration with a famous Slovak singer/songwriter Peter Nagy. On his demand, I re-composed one of his 80´s major radio hits so I´m very much looking forward what will people say. We´re also preparing a film music festival on 26.-27.10.2017 in Bratislava-Istropolis. My father came up with this wonderful idea and I am responsible for the dramaturgy and communication with the artists. I will play on this festival too. Our headliner-the great Eugen Doga, agreed to help me present my new album and I will also write a few pieces for the Slovak radio symphony orchestra for the festival. We have many interesting guests from all around the globe including the already mentioned great Eugen Doga who is a living legend of the film music and to me, he is like Ennio Morricone of the east. And now I´m also writing lyrics and songs both for me, and for other artists. Regarding the experimenting in my projects, YES! Definitely yes, because each new project is a new challenge and I love taking challenges, they keep you getting better and learn something new each time. I try to be a versatile composer and I love to compose different genres.