Hello my name is Y. I started studying English after I finished bringing up my sons. I read your essay and I have some questions I would like to ask you.
Q.1) Why did you choose Prague among many cities? There are many countries where young people study music, such as Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Austria and so on. Ms Kishida once said to me that she had a professor whom she wanted to study under in Prague. Did you also choose Prague for the same reason?
Hi Y. and thank you for all your questions. I will try to answer them as best I can.
I choose Prague for various reasons; my parents who were both musicians studied in Prague in the 60s and at home always were talking about Prague like something special. I learned and listen a lot to Czech classical music in particular to Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek from a young age. I remember when we visited Prague with my parents when I was 8 years old and I felt in love with that town. And of course the most important reason was that Prague is one of the best places to learn music and I had already a connection to this town through my parents.
Q.2) I’ve heard before that every pianist has a favourite composer in whose piece he or she are especially good at. Do you have a special composer too?
I have many special composers that I love learning their music and I believe most pianists can’t choose just one. Yes its true that for example Arthur Rubinstein was a master in performing the music of Chopin, but the truth is that Rubinstein was master in performing any composer. The question is what Rubinstein himself though about this and in many interviews we can read that he had many favourite composers. This is a difficult question for any pianist to answer as there is tones of beautiful music out there and only so much little time to get to know it or learn it.
For example now I am preparing a new chamber music program with a colleague that plays the viola, learning the music of the American composer Rebecca Clark, the Cypriot composer Constantinos Stylianou and of course the viola sonata of Paul Hindemith and I can say that at the moment I am in love with all these three composers and their music. In a few months, I will start learning the violin/piano sonata by Camille Saint-Saens and yes I will be obsessed with Saint-Saens music. Atleast with me it was always like that, but each pianist is different I believe.
Q.3) For me, as Asian, Europe is very far away and it’s a dream place. It is not easy to go, but I would love to visit the Mediterranean someday. Asia is also a wonderful place for me. What kind of image do you have for Asia? What is your impression about Japan?
Asia and Japan in particular is a dream place for me. I know your country only from documentaries and photos and I am impressed from the beautiful and unique nature of Japan. In Prague we have a quite big botanical garden and there they have created a Japanese garden and is the most beautiful part of the whole place. Luckily I live near the Botanical garden so I can visit many times per month and I love to spend time in the Japanese garden, with all the bonsai trees, the running water and the scenery that they have created. Is an oasis of peace and relaxation.
Also when I was a child I used to read a lot about mythologies of different countries and Asian mythology was so fascinating for me. So different from the Greek mythology, so far away and challenging for my imagination. It was a dream and still is a dream that one day I will visit your country and see the place that I visited with my mind so many times before.
Japan for many people is just Tokyo, a huge city with millions of people with very busy lives. For me Japan is the beautiful nature that I saw in photos and the images I created in my mind by reading Asian mythology.
Hello Ourania, thank you for your reply. It was like I received a letter from a foreign friend, and I was very happy and excited. Thank you for your very polite responses to my questions.
I envy you very much because you spend your life learning and loving music. Like many people, I haven’t got anything that I want to learn in my lifetime. I think it’s very regrettable. When I was young, I spent every day without thinking something deeply. Now I’m over 50 years old. I wish I could go back to my youth. And I want to find something which I can be enthusiastic about. The only thing I can say is that I may have been absorbed in parenting. But parenting will end someday. After that I have no choice but to live in my memories.
I found out that there is a beautiful botanical garden in Prague. I imagined the beautiful garden while reading your letter. I’d like to go there someday. There are gardens called “the Three Great Gardens of Japan”. But unfortunately these famous gardens are not near my living area. But if you visit my city there is a view I definitely want to show you. In Japan, cherry blossoms bloom very beautifully in April. There is a river called “Ashiya River” in our town. When the cherry blossoms along this river bloom in full, it’s a very beautiful view. We can see the green at the foot of Mt. Rokko upstream of the river. The cherry blossoms along the river are pale and gentle pink color. There is a blue sky and there are white clouds. The view is so beautiful and it makes me happy. Everyone who gathers in that place looks happy. And I am grateful to be able to see the scenery every year.