© Johann Sebastian Hänel
“I am very pleased and honored that G. Henle is the music publisher of my own compositions.
When it comes to sheet music I always regard Henle as my first choice.”
Henle Interview with the Composer Komponisten Evgeny Kissin
Evgeny Kissin: Four Piano Pieces op. 1,2: Dodecaphonic Tango
Evgeny Kissin, Piano [2:47]
Evgeny Kissin: Four Piano Pieces op. 1,4: Toccata
Evgeny Kissin, Piano [2:25]
Evgeny Kissin: Violoncello Sonata op. 2
Gautier Capuçon, Violoncello and Yuja Wang, Piano [2:59]
Evgeny Kissin: String Quartett op. 3
Making-of to the first recording by the Kopelman Quartet [8:47]
Dr. Wolf-Dieter Seiffert, Managing Director, in conversation with Evgeny Kissin © G. Henle Verlag, March 2019
Most people will certainly be surprised to learn that you are not only a pianist but also a very gifted composer. How did that happen?
Kissin: In fact, I had a natural desire to compose music since I was a little child. As soon as I learned how to read music, at about six years old, I started writing down my own compositions. I tried different styles, and different instruments, but I learned about them from books. I loved reading books about different instruments. But of course, books are not nearly enough to learn what is really possible to play.
There is a funny story about it: One day I wrote something for the viola, so when I showed my work to a teacher in my school she said “it cannot be played on a viola”. I replied: “OK, let the viola develop!” Or another one: I played with my schoolmate, a violinist, privately. He asked me to write a cycle of variations on some famous themes for his instrument. So I chose the first theme of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, wrote a cycle of variations and gave it to my friend. He looked at them and said to me a few days later “well, you know, if Jascha Heifetz would practice really well, he probably would be able to play half of it...”.
And then came a point when I stopped hearing my own music in my head. I didn’t know what to do next. That coincided with the time when my activities as a concert pianist began to increase. That was when I was about 15 years old.
A few years ago, I began to feel an urge to compose again.
Was it then that you composed the 3 works that we at G. Henle have now the honor to publish as Opus 1–3?
That’s right. First I wrote the four pieces for piano solo [op. 1], one of which, the “Toccata”, I originally started to write down in 1986. But then I stopped after only a few lines. When I finished these piano pieces the admired composer Arvo Pärt gave me some precious advice about the “Meditation” [op. 1, nr. 1] which was absolutely right. So I made some corrections.
Afterwards I began to send my music to various musicians, performers, not hoping for anything. I asked them: “Please tell me honestly if you like it or not; I want to know it”. And most people told me that they not only liked it, but they would be happy to play it – and they did play it afterwards.
Who, for instance, played your works already in public?
Steven Isserlis in particular became very enthusiastic about my sonata for cello and piano [op. 2]. He played it several times in different countries. Also David Geringas. And also Gautier Capuçon together with Yuja Wang played my cello sonata at the Verbier Festival.
Your third work is one without the piano at all, your string quartet op. 3.
I had never learned to play any string instrument. So, when I wrote my string quartet, my friends, the Kopelman Quartet – wonderful musicians – rehearsed it and they became very enthusiastic about it. So based on what I heard and after talking to them, I made appropriate changes. And they even recorded my string quartet! The Endellion Quartet also became interested in it not long ago; they gave the UK premiere of my op. 3 in Cambridge.
May I ask you why you’ve contacted G. Henle Verlag to publish your works?
Because you are the best, obviously, everyone knows this! I love studying music of great composers using Henle Urtext editions.
We are well known for our so-called Urtext editions exclusively of composers of the past. No contemporary music up to now.
You know, there is a first time for everything, maybe also for G. Henle Verlag. I can tell you a story. When I had just begun my music studies, I asked my piano teacher about a certain composer, and whether he was dead or alive. And then I asked: “why is it that everybody who wrote good music is dead?” Of course, I am not overestimating the value of my compositions at all. So I am very happy having found G. Henle as my publisher.
Find tour dates of Evgeny Kissin » here
Munich, September 2019
Evgeny Kissin’s compositions at G. Henle Publishers
G. Henle Publishers is honoured and proud to be, as of now, the exclusive music publisher of compositions by world-renowned inspired pianist Evgeny Kissin.
Hardly anyone is aware that Maestro Kissin has been composing since early childhood. Interrupted at times by his global piano career, he started composing again intensively a few years ago, having once more felt the “urge”, as he puts it. Ideas and fragments from his earlier years flowed into the works published here, which are informed by a variety of styles. Encouraged by prestigious composers and musician friends, he is now venturing into publication.
To start, we are presenting three of his compositions: piano pieces, a cello sonata, and a string quartet. This is an absolute first in the history of G. Henle Publishers where otherwise only established classics find their home. With these editions, created in strict accordance with our rules governing music engraving and production, musicians now also have the opportunity to discover Evgeny Kissin as a composer. It’s well worth it!
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