Interview with Adrian Oetiker

24 July 2021

Your regular presence at Ticino Musica finds a ready response every year from young musicians who flock to study with you. How do you guide them on their professional journey to find their place in the music world, which is particularly difficult for pianists?

If there was a recipe for this, I would pay handsomely for it! It is really very difficult - and very different for everyone - to find one's way in the world of music. I believe that my job is first and foremost to provide the best tools for this - and they are purely musical tools. I persist in believing that it is possible to find a satisfying position in the wonderful world of music through optimising personal skills and confidence.  Obviously marketing and the like are also part of this process of realisation (but this is nothing new, it has always been so), but I am terrible at this, so I cannot be a great example.

How did you experience the path that led you from training to profession, and how were your teachers decisive in your process of realisation, both as a performer and as a teacher?

My teachers were very different from me: they always put all their eggs in one basket, whereas I, when I was young, tended to focus on versatility, a quality that still opens many doors for me today. However, it was naturally this concentration on the essential that I picked up from my teachers and that I want to pass on to my students.

Schubert and Liszt: two giants of the 19th century. What are the points of contact and divergence between their respective pianisms? How do the pieces you have chosen for the recital at Ticino Musica relate to each other?

At first glance, Schubert and Liszt are decidedly opposite. The one is infinitely intimate, shy, the other a famous virtuoso, an extrovert man of the world. That is precisely why the similarities are so fascinating: the intensity of the moment, the incredibly personal language and thus the musical intransigence. And it is precisely this that counts.

Among musicians, the pianist is one of the most solitary figures, both in the preparation and in the performance on stage. How do you experience this dimension?

This is only one part of the pianist's life. The other part is chamber music: after all, many musicians don't get very far without pianists... Moreover, pianists are always at the centre of musical networks and have endless possibilities to communicate musically with all different kinds of artists (including dancers, writers, painters, etc.). And in my case, there is also teaching. So as a pianist you may be very good on your own, but then you have the whole world to yourself!