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Our timpani player gave up composing music at the age of ten and today he feels that music historians must really be grateful for this.

Timpani player Roland Dénes has participated in the performances of the Budapest Festival Orchestra since 1998. Since 2009, he has held masterclasses both at home and abroad and he is regularly invited to play in foreign orchestras. We asked him five questions in 2014.

Which figure in music history would you want to talk to over a bottle of wine?

There are a lot of composers that I would be happy to talk to. Mozart and Beethoven are great favorites of mine, but I wouldn’t dare sit down at a table with them. The composer I would definitely drink wine with until dawn is Haydn. He is our composer, the composer of everyday people speaking our language, talking about our problems and our joys. His music always brings joy and the message: Cheer up old pal, everything will be fine!

Besides your own, what other instrument would you like to learn?

I’ve been involved with several instruments. I have even learnt to play Hungarian folk instruments like the bagpipes or the folk viola. Having said that, I am also very interested in brass instruments and exotic ones such as the tabla or sitar, but I would also like to try the Slovak fujara.

Which composer would you most like to be, and why?

If I could be any musician, I would be Mahler. I would like to compose the most beautiful melodies in the world and see tears rolling down the faces of the listeners. I would like to create great symphonies and conduct my own pieces while bringing revolutionary new colors to symphonic music. If I could put myself in Gustav Mahler's shoes, maybe I could understand how a genius thinks.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Probably the biggest disappointment of my life was the moment when I realized that I was not going to be a composer. My first symphony (op.1) and mass (op.2) had a driving force that lasted until page 5, and then fell flat. Although I tried really hard, there was a moment when I had to admit: this is not going to work. My creative crisis reached its climax when I was 15. I finally gave up composing much to the delight of music historians.

Continue! According to my philosophy of life…

as a performing artist, I think, the most important thing is humbleness towards the piece and the composer. The first thing is to fully focus on performing the composition at the highest artistic level. Everything in my life is second to this. That's the only way it should be done, and that's the only way to hold concerts that audiences leave thinking: “Yes, this performance gave me something, a plus that I will always remember.” And if I could contribute to that, as a small cog in a big machine, then that is the greatest happiness!

You can read about the professional career of Roland Dénes here.