Performing a wonderful recital assisting the concert by the Duna Szimfonikus Zenekar (conductor Deák András) on 2nd of April in Budapest, the Japanese Pianist Rintaro Akamatsu, with this occasion, will be the guest of Montazsmagazin.
He started taking piano lessons, beginning his formal study on piano at an early age after his mother had been humming the tune. By the age of five he was invited performing the debut in front of a live studio audience on Japanese television. At all of 21, the Japanese pianist Rintaro Akamatsu has already become one of the best-loved solo pianists in Japan, with an international career. A remarkable child prodigy from Tokyo he first shot to prominence when he won the piano section of prize at the Clara Schumann International Piano Competition in Düsseldorf in 2000. He likes to consider himself simply as a “freelance artist” holding regular concerts throughout Europe, Saint Petersburg and North America, including at Carnegie Hall in New York. Rintaro Akamatsu very kindly offered to share his creative vision and experience with Montazsmagazin- readers.
As far as I know, You were faced with a difficult period concerning your decision on Your career field in order to become a diplomat or a piano-artist. What made You to decide?
Rintaro Akamatsu: That choice was not actually a difficult one. In 2000, I won a prize at the Clara Schumann International Piano Competition (Dr. Joachim Kaiser, Martha Argerich, and Nelson Freire, among others, were there as juries) in Düsseldorf and immediately headed for the concert in Saint Petersburg. My life as a concert pianist began automatically. I entered the competition not aiming to become a pianist; rather, I entered the competition in order to abandon becoming a pianist. However, given the great prize I had won, not becoming a pianist was no longer an option I could consider. This was when I was 21.
It was early realized that Your musical abilities were unusual and it looks like You’re conquering Europe. Please, share with us some highlights of Your past years.
Rintaro Akamatsu: As mentioned earlier, my success in Düsseldorf happened when I was 21 years old. After that, I traveled around Europe aimlessly. I visited many countries and regions over the course of many months, and learned a lot about the cultures of Europe. I arrived in Paris around Christmas season. As an outsider, Paris was a city full of illusion of success. I was completely fascinated by this city, and spent four-and-a-half years attending Music College for the first time in my life. To further build my career, I applied to many international competitions and won more than 10 awards. Although prize money and concert contracts helped to sustain a living, life in Paris was still very challenging. I have presented in ten countries, including Hungary, which is a special country in my life.
How often and for how long do You practice daily?
Rintaro Akamatsu: It’s very Japanese of me, but I hardly have any time off these days. I can’t maintain as many hours of practice as I used to, but when I’m at home in Tokyo, I practice three hours starting early in the morning. I play piano all the time while working, so there’s no need for any more than that.
Your passion and dedication serve Your art and work. So how do You achieve a good work-life balance taking into consideration that you supervise and teach pupils, as well?
Rintaro Akamatsu: I am a freelance artist. A few organizations have appointed me to office, but I do not want to have any restrictions, so I am not interested in holding any office positions. I have more than 300 students.
Which pianists (or other musicians) do you most like to listen to, and why? Mention to us some of Your fellow colleagues and musicians You worked with during your career, giving to You the greatest sense of inspiration and accomplishment.
With some Hungarian friends
Rintaro Akamatsu: My parents were amateur string players who belonged to an orchestra throughout their lives, so I have had a love of the orchestra more than piano since I was young. Even now, I prefer orchestral and chamber music concerts to piano concerts. I think that to perform on the piano is to represent an orchestra. Even now, I enjoy reading the full musical scores of Gustav Mahler’s works. Because my father is a record fan, I was exposed to musicians of all times and places, and I was especially captivated by György Cziffra and Vladimir Horowitz. Among the many musical performers, Hungarian conductors and chamber music instrumentalists are very special to me. That is because one can see the destiny of classical music in the lives they lived, and because they represent history to us.
Ludvig von Beethoven
I enjoy not only classical music, but also various other kinds of music including jazz, pop music, traditional Japanese performing arts, and folk music. I got involved in classical music but my youngest sister chose traditional Japanese performing arts. I feel a great sense of gratitude for having traveled to many places in the world to play music and for being able to continue to do so. For even as music continues to change, it always flows over the long narrative of history.
On 2nd of April You will perform in Budapest a wonderful recital assisting the concert by the Duna Szimfonikus Zenekar (conductor Deák András), involving a wide spread of repertoire, including Hungarian pieces. How did you choose the programme? What should we know in advance regarding this unique event?
Rintaro Akamatsu: Ludwig von Beethoven stands at the crossroads between the Classical and Romantic periods of music. Not only does Piano Concerto No. 1 emulate the style that had been perfected by composers up until that time, it is a drama depicted by the expression truly characteristic of Beethoven. This work, brimming over with youth, is enveloped by great love, and in it is seen Beethoven’s character, which even through a life of hardship does not forget gratitude and hope. His ten years of maturation can be seen in Piano Concerto No. 4. In this concerto, which has already seen the next generation, the piano tells of a dream. Although Beethoven lived in a turbulent era, rather than be tossed about by history, he clearly demonstrated how one should live in the midst of the storm. As a pianist, I am proud to be able to perform these two pieces in this concert.
Nagata Dzsunkó (on the left)
What are you most looking forward to in 2015? What are your future plans?
Rintaro Akamatsu: Last year, I released 2 CDs, and preparations are already moving forward to release another one this year. In Japan, I play a lot of concerts, but I would also like to perform in various European countries. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Béla Bartók’s death. Bartók’s music is also loved in Japan, but there are not many people who know about his life and his home country of Hungary. I would like to visit Transylvania in the near future. Furthermore, from now on I want to use my music to express the love for Hungary that my wife inherited from her father.
Vác, blooming cherry trees, Edit Ambrus, a Hungarian friend
Thank you Maestro for your generosity of spirit in this interview, and likewise for sharing your thoughts with us all. Can you leave us with information on how to find out more about your activity and music?
Rintaro Akamatsu: Please look for me on Facebook. You can also see nearly 300 videos of my performances on YouTube. I add around 100 videos every year. Hungary is my second home, so I’m always going there. Let’s meet up again soon.
Interview by Nagy L.Éva, Ambrus Edit
Compiled and translated by Ambrus Erika Klára
Edited by: Weninger Erzsébet