Concert in the Museum of Fine Arts

Gavriel Lipkind, cellist

MúzeumCafé 13.

If a so-called child prodigy suffers because he is never close to a toy, cannot kick a ball and has no childhood, I don’t fit the category. But so as not to be accused of false modesty, I’d say I was an absolutely everyday, happy child prodigy with my own prodigy parents. When I announced my intention to learn music they got worked up. My mother asked whether I’d rather play football and be a normal child. There had already been a candidate for music in the family – my sister, 6 years my senior, who not only wrote poetry in Hebrew, English and French, drew and painted, she also played the piano extremely well. From their income as a biologist and researcher, my parents bought her the most expensive upright piano, and she took lessons with the best teacher in the best music school. Yet, she didn’t even think of performing and remained our living room virtuoso in Tel-Aviv. My career as a pianist quickly ended. The first lesson lasted three and a half hours, the teacher was surprised how long I was able to concentrate at the age of 6 and how deeply I was engulfed in music. Some weeks later a deep sound filtered through from the next room and without me knowing that it was a cello I declared spellbound that from then on I would play that instrument. On the same day I ‘transferred’. I was hardly 7 when I performed on national radio. For this, I can thank my subsequent teacher, the noted cellist Uzi Wiesel, a former pupil of Pablo Casals. Uzi was in a taxi when he heard me on the radio. Excited, he asked the driver to stop and he listened to my playing. As soon as he got home he browsed the phone directory and rang my parents. My mother answered and after a quick introduction he asked bluntly if they had a cellist son. He said he was expecting me. It would turn out what a great honour it was. As a university professor, Uzi taught only students over 25. Neither before nor after did he ever ring anybody. Talented pupils competed for him. It was a great challenge and I wanted to match expectations. I had to grow up not only in terms of music but also in human relations. Uzi may not have been the best as a child psychologist, but he had amazing expertise and firm ideas. At the age of 16 I played with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta. I was a guest performer with the Munich Philharmonic and the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestras. The very best of the profession, Philippe Entremont, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Yehudi Menuhin, Pinchas Zukerman, Yuri Bashmet and Gidon Kremer were pleased to work with me. I took the test simultaneously as a musician and a human being. However strange it may sound, I became saturated and empty at the same time. I got exhausted. I wanted a stronger inspiration than applause, so I could keep my mind on only music and myself. The most adventurous trip of my life lasting four years followed among the walls of a castle in Germany. As regards the most important matter, playing music, I unearthed the Gavriel Lipkind version of a significant slice of music literature. While I recorded a selection of these and a solo Bach album I tried to learn something else, too. I composed my own music and studied myself. I began watching what I ate and also took a year-long course in finance. Isolated from the world, I learnt much about it. Home. It’s a strange concept. People always think of home as something mainly physical and permanent. For me, it’s virtually all the same where I live. What’s important is not connected to locations or objects. That’s why I moved from Israel to Europe. I couldn’t identify with a country which expects my identity to fully mean belonging to a country – not to the pebbles, my former football pitches by the sea, but to a political standpoint.”