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As if I was bound to my instrument


As if I was bound to my instrument

Interview with Marc Bouchkov

The soloist of our upcoming Haydn–Mozart program is the Belgian violinist Marc Bouchkov, who has Russian-Ukrainian ancestry. “Undoubtedly: an exceptional talent”, wrote the critic of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Júlia Váradi: Mr Bouchkov, as far as I know, your home has been Belgium for many years, but your parents come from Ukraine. Where were you born?

Marc Bouchkov: I was born in France actually, not even in Belgium. I have a little bit of a complicated background with Russian-Ukrainian parents, born and growing up in Belgium. So, it is not so easy to define my home.

J. V.: Is that true, that you started violin playing because your parents are also violinists? Was it obvious for everybody that this is your faith, listening to violin music all around you from your birth?

M. B.: Yes, my life and my environment were full of violin. my mom was very, very young when she had me, just like my father. So, I was kind of given to the care of my grandparents. My mother’s parents. I mainly grew up with them. Music was the core of our lives.

J. V.: Did those grandparents come from Ukraine?

M. B.: Yes, my grandfather is from Lviv in Ukraine.

J. V.: A very beautiful place, I have have been there and fell in love with the city.

M. B.: Yes, it was a great city with all kinds of Austro-Hungarian citizens and a lot of culture. My mom was born there. My grandfather was a teacher, and he had his string ensemble in Lviv. He was quite an important person in those days. A lot of people visited him from Moscow, like David Oistrakh and later Yuri Bashmet. So, my grandfather made his name there so to say. Then, when the USSR collapsed, they went on a tour to France and they stayed there. Fortunately, they got a residence in Montpellier.

J. V.: That’s where you were born and there you began to fall in love with the violin?

M. B.: Yes, that’s the city of my birth. My grandfather was the person, who basically taught me the violin from my childhood. But also, I saw my mother and my grandfather playing, , so obviously I was insisted on playing myself too.

J. V.: So there was no doubtyou are will be a violinist, but were they aware of how talented you were as a child?
M. B.: Look, I was literally submerged in violin playing. And as a kid, of course, I saw that everybody is so busy with doing it, so I wanted to do the same. I was very motivated. My grandfather sent me a lot of pictures recently of me as a kid with violin, as if I was bound to my instrument.

J. V.: Did you already have successes when you were a child?
M. B.: No, no, not at all. My grandfather was slightly more conservative in a sense that he didn't want me to appear on stage too early and too often. I don't know if it was for pedagogical or personal reasons. I still talk about this with him sometimes, but he tells me that it was very important for him that I get to a healthy working and practicing time, and that meant a protection for me from the outside world. I only started performing concerts and competitions quite late.

J. V.: How old were you when you first stepped on stage?

M. B.: I think my very first competition was when I was 15 and before that I only had very, very rarely some small concerts, more like demonstrations to play for five-ten minutes. Nobody in the family really worked on my career. My father had different things to do, he left the family when I was very young, he started a new one in Russia. I didn't have much contact with him. Let’s say that's the “Russian part of me”.

J. V.: Now let’s talk about the present. You are going to perform in Budapest soon with Gábor Takács-Nagy. As far as I know, you have worked with each other many times. You both are enthusiastic about music, and this is what binds you together. Is that true?

M. B.: Yes, indeed we both have deep thoughts about music.

J. V.: How do you think about the Budapest concerts, playing Mozart’s famous concerto? What can you add to this wonderful music?
M. B.: I am a huge fan of Arthur Grumiaux, the marvelous Belgian violin player of the last century, who was one of the greatest performers of Mozart of his time. I got a vinyl discas a present from my grandfather for new year him performing this concerto. I listened to it so many times! It is difficult to reach the level of his musical performance, but I will do my best, although it might be impossible. I honestly have a lot of respect and a great pressure to do so.. First, because of this orchestra, the BFO represents the crème de la crème of the musicianship. Considering this orchestra was founded by Iván Fischer and Zoltan Kocsis, the standard is so high that it puts a bit of pressure on someone like me, who has so much respect for these musicians. And then there's Mozart, whose composition I believe represents the most expansive achievement in composition from a broad perspective.