JACK Martin Händler.
photo: Courtesy of SEL
The concert's motto Vitaj Slovensko, vitaj Európa (Welcome Slovakia, welcome Europe) emphasised one of the most important events of the year for Slovakia - the decision to join the European Union.
The more than 100 musicians from Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, who joined together to perform the Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, created a great harmony of sound and were rewarded by a standing ovation by the enthusiastic audience. The entire event symbolised the unity of sounds, people and countries.
Born in Slovakia, and educated here and in Russia, Händler made his career as a violinist and conductor first in Germany, then in Sweden, and later in Luxembourg. He was a disciple of the famous Russian violinist David Oistrach, played in many different orchestras, conducted the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, and led the Moscow State Orchestra. He cooperated with such acclaimed artists as Paul Badura Skoda, Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Gidon Kremer, Julian Rachlin, Mstislav Rostropovic, Gil Shaham, Misha Majsky, Martha Argerich and Radu Lupu.
Händler's orchestra, the Solistes Européens, which he founded in Luxembourg and which unites the best musicians from all over Europe, has completed its 15th season. Asked how difficult it was to find musicians for the orchestra, the maestro smiles and says: "It was easy.
"During the years I spent in Germany I played in a few orchestras, where I met and became friends with a lot of very gifted musicians. Then, when the opportunity to create the Solistes Européens arrived, I contacted them. And in no time, the main core of the orchestra was formed."
However, to figure out how many different nationalities there are in the orchestra seems an impossible task to him.
"I can't answer this. Look, I am of Slovak origin, I carry a German passport and I live in Luxembourg. What is my nationality? And I could say the same about the majority of the orchestra. How do I count it?" he says.
The orchestra, which has performed in Prague, Budapest, Lisbon, Helsinki, Strasbourg, Paris, and Vienna, and successfully toured Germany and Spain, is starting to appear more frequently in Bratislava.
Apart from his orchestra, Händler also works as an artistic director for the European Music Academy in Schengen. Founded in October 2002, the academy gathers young talents from various countries and gives them the opportunity to improve their musical skills under the guidance of experienced masters. The brightest talents then get a chance to play with Händler's orchestra and are presented to the international music scene.
"Continuity is very important in the arts. The knowledge that I gained from my professors I want to share with my disciples," Händlers says.
"I'm absolutely convinced that it is impossible to teach music - it either vibrates in the heart and in the fingers of a musician or it does not. The only thing we can do is to give an opportunity to young people to demonstrate their talents. For that we are constantly searching, we collaborate with the music academies and artistic agencies. In Slovakia alone we discovered such gifted young musicians like violinist Dalibor Karvay, pianists Ladislav Fančovič and Peter Šandor, and flautist Jozef Hamerník."
The June 25 concert at the Philharmonic Hall not only marked an outstanding event in the history of Slovakia, but also served as the starting point for the series of chamber concerts put together by Händler, the event's programme director. Theseries will continue throughout the whole summer.
Classical and contemporary music will be performed by Austrian, Swiss, Hungarian, Slovak, French, Czech, and Ukrainian musicians, some of whom are already well known and some only at the start of their musical careers. The event is being co-organised by the City Cultural Council and the Bratislava Old Town council, and the idea is to present new names to the Slovak public.
"I would also like to help my friends - musicians, to discover Bratislava as a beautiful city and a concert destination. I was born and grew up here, and I feel it's time for me to go back to my roots, to pay tribute to the place I come from," the conductor says.
The Chamber Concert Series schedule
Concerts are on Thursdays at 20:00, at Mirbach Palace, Bratislava.
July 10 - Schengen European Music Academy
Jozef Horváth (Slovakia), violin
Olesya Kurylyak (Ukraine), violin
Elena Haendler (Slovakia), piano
Orfeo Mandozzi (Austria), cello
Caroline Clipsham (UK), piano
July 24 - Piano recital by Peter Šandor (Slovakia)
July 31 - Adamus trio (Czech Republic)
Dalibor Karvay (Slovakia, Austria), violin
Daniel Buranovský (Slovakia), piano
Alexander Koganovsky (Switzerland), cello
Taeko Szedlak-Oshima (Japan), piano
August 21 - Piano recital by Ladislav Fančovič (Slovakia)
August 28 - Trio Elegiaque (Switzerland)
7. Jul 2003 at 0:00 | Lidia Staub