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In English: David Garrett’s Interview on WDR ‘Daheim & unterwegs’

19th November 2015 – Chat Show Hosts: Eva Assmann and Stefan Pinnow

***

(Intro, played by David)

Eva: (Applauding) “Fantastic – our opening theme never sounded so good! Could you do this every day?” (Laughs)

Stefan: “David Garrett just gave his interpretation of our theme tune, from today the CD will be widely available …”

(They laugh)

David: “I hope it is recognizable.”

Stefan: “It is.”

David: “Thank you.”

Stefan: “Especially that tüdüdüdüm …”

David: “Absolutely – I tried hard to get it right.”

Eva: “Great! We are so pleased to have you with us today …”

David: “So am I.”

Eva: “… a real superstar, a son of Aachen, and he has been with us before, many, many years ago. We shall have to talk more about that in a moment, about all that happened in the meantime.”

David: “Quite a bit!” (Laughs)

Stefan: “And here we have our wonderful Questions-Bingo, with the best questions one could be asked … Go on and take one!”

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(David picks a card and reads it out)

“What was it you never told your parents about?”

(They laugh)

Eva: “The moment of truth!”

David: “For my 18th birthday – my parents were away – I cleared out all the furniture. My grandmother was there, my dad’s mother, and she helped me, and then I invited my whole class. We celebrated with an extended party. Fortunately, I had two days to put the house back in order. But then there were pictures, because a lot of people took photos, and so my parents did find out about it eventually. But for a long time I didn’t tell them about it.”

Eva: “Did you get into trouble?”

David: “My grandmother got into more trouble than I did, because she had allowed it.”

Eva: “We’ll pose the other 35,000 questions in a moment …”

(Talk-show-related announcements)

Eva: “Right, the air is about to catch fire! You wouldn’t necessarily expect so, because this is about violin music …”

Stefan: “… but the way David Garrett plays, it is going to be really hot!”

(David plays Explosive from his new album while the music video is shown)

Eva: “… And we are right in the middle of it, Stefan immediately wanted to get the phone number of the girl who performed in the video …”

David: “Then I’ll have to explain to him that there are in fact three girls.”

Eva: “Why three girls?”

David: “Initially, we were looking for someone who was really proficient in both kinds of dance – and pole dancing has meanwhile also become an art form, if it is done well – so we were looking for someone who was good at ballet, good at pole dancing, and had some acting talent as well – and in the end that was only possible with three girls. But we did carry it off somehow …”

Stefan: “… that it looks like a single one.”

David: “Rather explosive!”

Eva: “Explosive – that is the title of the piece, and also of the new album you just released. We are delighted to have you here, because – well, you have been here before, but admittedly that is a while back.”

David: “I heard of that, and I remembered – you, first and foremost.”

Stefan: (pleased) “He pointed to me!”

David: “At the time, I mentioned in our talk that I watched Disney Club as a child, with Antje, Stefan and Ralf.”

Stefan: “Without Eva – that’s important! … (Unintelligible) … I still remember asking you about your violin – was it anything special? Ah, a Stradivari – and was it valuable? Yes, it was insured for …”

Eva: “Fourteen millions, I believe.”

David: “Well, it isn’t fourteen millions, but …”

Eva: “… but almost.”

David: “Not quite … Meanwhile I have another Stradivari, because I have been very, very fortunate in my life. Initially, they were partly on loan, but this one is now mine.”

Eva: “(Unintelligible) … dropped.”

David: “Well, I do try … (unintelligible) … ssshhhh!”

Eva: “Seriously, did you ever happen to break a violin?”

David: “It happened once – unintentionally, of course – but unfortunately I did have an accident. I generally like to carry my violin on my back during transport, and I slipped and fell backwards onto the violin case. That caused a lot of cracks, naturally – but it wasn’t this instrument.”

Eva: “We’ll show you the violin you played for us at the time … (unintelligible)”

(At this point, there appears to be a bit missing from the interview recording)

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(David plays Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee)

Eva: “Weren’t you actually entered in the Guinness Book of Records with the Flight of the Bumblebee?”

David: “Yes.”

Eva: “As the fastest bumblebee-performer …”

David: “That’s right.”

Eva: “… far and wide, and for a really long time: from 2008 to 2010! And then someone caught up with you.”

David: “No, no – that is utter nonsense.”

(Eva and Stefan laugh)

David: “I have to clarify this: The guy didn’t play on an acoustic violin. You (to Stefan) play a bit of guitar, I believe. So you know the difference between an acoustic and an electric guitar.”

Stefan: “Yes, of course.”

David: “With the electric instrument you can move a lot faster, because you have no resonating body. And the guy who supposedly took the record off me did it on an electric violin. Which means he did not have to exert any pressure at all to make the body resonate.”

Stefan: “Something else entirely!”

David: “Something else entirely … I don’t know what they were thinking at the Guinness Book of Records, but they certainly weren’t musicians.”

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Stefan: “Ok, but back then it was really one of your very first appearances on TV. In Japan you were already a superstar, but here with us it was your first time, I believe, or your second or third time on German television, and since then things have changed a bit.”

David: (laughs) “Yes, you could say that! Absolutely crazy, what happened over the last eight years. Of course it’s been a fantastic development. When I look back – which I do very, very rarely, looking back and pondering all those things that happened – but if one takes the time to consider it briefly, then it does seem like … a dream, genuinely.”

Eva: “And the great thing is, we did ask you a question at the time which you can only really answer today. Let’s have a look!”

(They show a recording of the earlier interview question:)

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Stefan: “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

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David: “In ten years … I really do hope that I may continue to do what I do now, because – even though I travel a lot and am on the move so much – I really love my profession and have a lot of fun with it.”

Eva: “Yes! It worked out!”

Stefan: “It did work out.”

David: (nods and laughs) “It did work out … (jokingly) … dreams can come true!”

(They laugh)

Stefan: “Awesome! By the way, I have a cool story: I told my children, sometime at the start of the week, that David Guetta would be visiting. And they were like, oh really? That’s cool … So I say – nonsense, David Guetta (slaps his forehead) – it’s David Garrett who is coming! And do you know: My daughter, she’s fourteen, goes Waaaaaaah! – She was so much more enthusiastic …”

David: “Funnily enough, there’s a piece by David Guetta on my new album.”

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(He plays Dangerous)

Stefan: “Wicked!”

Eva: “Splendid!”

Stefan: “Now we have come full circle.”

Eva: “So it is! – Now you do pop music on the violin, so to speak – crossover …”

David: “I also do a lot of classical music. Just last night I played Brahms’s concerto here in Düsseldorf, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Christoph Eschenbach – the cream of the crop – and I did like … I’m naturally having a great time, covering both realms.”

Eva: “Which do you prefer?“

David: “Ahem, well – both of them are demanding, of course, if you want to do it well. Playing Brahms is no mean feat, and to continually develop one’s career, to play with really good musicians, good orchestras, good conductors – of course it is a great responsibility to be sound in this respect. Crossover is the area where I can realize my creativity. For my current album I was able to write original compositions myself, more than 80% of the material. I learned composition from scratch over a number of years in New York, then left my mark on arrangements but never did much composing myself. With this album, that is happening for the first time.”

Eva: “But how does it work? Do you call David Guetta to say, listen, I’d like to …”

David: “Well, this is one of the few covers, but it has to – of course this is done by the management – one does need consent to do this.”

Stefan: “It’s not that easy.”

Eva: “But he did know you, didn’t he?”

David: “He did, yes, most people know me by now. But it was complicated with Eminem. Of the four covers on the album, his Lose Yourself is one, because to me that is an epic number … and it really took until two days before the CD was released to get his permission, because he never allows any covers. So I’m one of only two people who ever did a cover of his material.”

Eva: “Cool!”

Stefan: “What would have happened if you had released the CD without his permission?”

David: “Well, one would have had to take it out at short notice.”

Stefan: “Seriously?”

David: “Absolutely. One has no wish to get involved in such court cases. I believe he has more money in his pocket than I do.” (Laughs)

Stefan: “Now a little bit of Questions-Bingo in between. We already had one question earlier.” 

(David picks another card and reads it out:)

“What was your nickname as a child?”

David: “As a child, I used to be … (laughs) … This is really embarrassing! … I was a little bit overweight, and they called me ‘pot belly’.”

Eva & Stefan: “Nooooo!”

David: “Sure! Kids can be cruel.”

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(They laugh)

David: (nodding) “In Kindergarten …”

Eva: “Truly horrible!”

David: “Oh, I’m over it.”

Eva: “Just about – but this is an issue which you then, if you were overweight as a child …”

David: “Not actually overweight, like a hundredweight – but I did have a bit of puppy fat.”

Eva: “But in Kindergarten all the kids are a little bit chubby, and surely that’s ok.”

David: “Well, not those who called me pot belly … (They laugh) … Impudence!”

(Stefan presents more question cards)

Eva: “One more!”

(David picks another card)

David: “So, what have we got? … Ah, this is a crucial question: ‘Is a kiss, of which no one will ever know, cheating?”

Eva: “You chose! There were other cards as well.”

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David: (laughing) “Can one hear the falling tree in the forest if no one is there? – I would say, yes!”

Eva: “Yes? Actually, this brings us directly to the Yellow Press, which I always read very attentively.”

Stefan: “She reads everything.”

David: “I don’t, not at all.”

Eva: “But once in a while, there is something about you in these papers, in the press …”

David: “I can’t comment. I don’t read these things, on principle.”

Eva: “Pity!”

David: “And even if I did read it, I would hold off, for I always think that private matters should really be private.”

Eva: “But these things do get spread out. One reads of people in your vicinity who disclose …”

David: “I can’t tell other people what they should or shouldn’t do. Anyhow, everybody should do what …”

Eva: “But doesn’t it hurt you in hindsight? Your ex-girlfriend did tell a bit to the press …”

David: “Nah, I’m a gentleman in this respect, I keep out of it.”

Eva: “Fine.”

Stefan: “Right, then we have to pose the next question. Holger writes, ‘Mr Garrett, you don’t limit yourself to classical music only, but rather interpret pop and rock pieces by other artists. What kind of feedback do you get from these colleagues?”

David: “Positive throughout. I did wonder at first, because I assumed that I’d get a nasty letter at some point, such as, ‘I really didn’t like it’. But I get truly positive feedback. Even Metallica got in touch once, I thought that was really great. Coldplay once sent me – because I had covered Viva la Vida and was on tour last year, and for Paradise I absolutely needed a bass line which I couldn’t find – and then they sent it to me and said, please use it, and so on … So, always very positive feedback.”

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Stefan: “It must of course be added that you have perfect hearing?”

David: “Yes.”

Stefan: “But you are really … your hearing is crazily good, now you are on so many big stages, and with such a thingy in your ear you hear an insane amount, and loud too …”

David: “But not when I’m playing Brahms.”

Stefan: “… doesn’t it all suffer in the course of time – people ask themselves, my God, the poor guy?“

David: “Ahem, well, let’s say that if I had to play every day for eight hours with such an in-ear … of course you get … I have to say, once in a while, when you’re playing in a really large hall and there is a lot of sound coming from the band behind you, and you have to turn up the volume to hear yourself, or rather the instrument – then you’ll walk away from the stage with a slight ringing in your ear. But thank God it passes eventually … (impishly) … That’s why I play so much classical music, of course – so that the ringing goes away again.”

Stefan: “But you’ll be in the Lanxess Arena in Cologne next year, you’ll have a big tour with a huge apparatus, you’ll have to play loudly – but it’s ok, you can hear … (with raised voice) … Can you still hear me?”

David: (pretending to be deaf) “What?”

(They laugh)

(At this point, there appears to be another bit missing from the interview recording)

David: “… It turned out to be a lovely piece. For this album, I had wanted to write a beautiful, emotional number, a little bit in the style of Disney – we come full circle again! – soundtracks like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, or Frozen … and it was a kind of inspiration to write such a melody that really moves you.”

Both at once: “How …”

Stefan: (to Eva) “Did you want to ask the same question?”

Eva: “Yes, but I believe for different reasons than you! In fact, I wanted to know how you know Nicole [Scherzinger]. – He wanted to know that too!”

David: “At the time, when I wrote the soundtrack for the film I did about Paganini, I had also written something for her for this film, and so – that’s why we have known each other for a few years.”

Eva: (to Stefan) “I believe you wanted to ask David for her number.”

Stefan: (rapidly) “Nah, I wanted to ask where you got the violin from – but very well, this topic is now dealt with. Here we have a question from Andrea: ‘What do you do when you don’t happen to be playing the violin?’ – Look here, she has …”

David: “A photo of me.”

Stefan: (amazed) “Is that you?”

David: “Yes, it does look a lot like it.” (Chuckles)

Stefan: “On the right is David, on the left Andrea, Andrea Loehr …”

David: “So, what do you do when you don’t happen to be playing the violin?’ – Ahem, well, all the things every other person does. I see to it that I keep physically fit, of course, that I read the newspaper, that I continue to educate myself – it’s always good to read a book now and then – and of course I travel a lot. Meanwhile, much time is actually spent getting from A to B.”

Eva: “Speaking of reading the news: The terrorist attacks in Paris … the assassins stormed a concert hall too. As an artist, when you find yourself on stage, is it with a different feeling these days, do you approach it somehow differently?”

David: (pensively) “No … Yesterday, I was on stage in Düsseldorf … and you don’t actually think about it. Music is something I really love, it is my great passion. To waste any thought on what might happen, I think that would be … I really can’t live in fear as an artist, as a person. That would be awful, and those people must not be allowed to achieve this. Therefore, chin up and see to it that you live your life the way you want. That is, I believe, the main objective.”

Stefan: “We’re trying to do that too, and the circle completes itself inasmuch as we are once again planning something amazing at ‘Daheim & unterwegs’. Would you support us by signing this T-shirt?”

David: “Yes, if I may put down the violin for a moment … Ok, let’s do this properly, with a violin, so it fetches a little bit… (he is drawing on the T-shirt) … I assume it’s for a good cause.”

Stefan: “Indeed!”

David: (drawing) “In that case I’ll allow myself ten seconds.”

Stefan: “Sure! Take all the time you want.”

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Eva: “You can even draw …!”

David: “There, wham!”

Stefan: “Wow!”

Eva: “Cool!“

Stefan: (holds up the T-shirt to show David’s drawing and signature) “Look here, isn’t that brilliant? Thanks so much!”

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David: “I don’t know about brilliant, but …”

Eva: “The purpose is this: Once again we shall be doing a ‘Secret Santa’ in December, as we always do. People can call us, can receive a Secret Santa present – not for themselves, but for someone who is dear to them, who may have done something good for them, or whatever – simply people who are thinking of others. This T-shirt will be put into a Secret Santa parcel, and hopefully it will make someone very happy.”

(Stefan gives details of this campaign)

Stefan: “Finally, the most important question, (…) from André Fröhlich: ‘Where does David Garrett see himself in ten years?’”

David: “Here with you once again, I hope. It is really nice to find oneself invited back after eight years … invited to such lovely programmes, and I hope that this may still be the case in ten years; that I will be enjoying my profession as much as I do now, and still be healthy. This is of course very, very important – and yes, that is what I wish for.”

Eva: “Tell us: You know TV shows all over the world: Isn’t it nice, here, with us? Isn’t it the nicest?”

David: (with a charming smile) “Absolutely.”

Stefan: “Next year: David Garrett on tour, in the great halls everywhere in Germany – this afternoon here with us. Thank you very much indeed!”

David: “I am very happy to have met you again.”

Eva: “Thanks a lot, so are we.”

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Stefan: “And don’t forget your violin!”

***


18 Comments

David Garrett and the Critics

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 11

David Garrett’s critics put themselves in line with all those who, in the course of history, have made it their business to find fault with artists whose accomplishments surpass or reinvent the norm. It is a risky undertaking to criticize the extraordinary. Of course criticism does not per se oblige anyone to deliver a better performance; and yet it will inevitably draw attention to the critic’s inferior abilities. How can anyone take a swipe at those whose achievements are way beyond their own and hope to look good in the process? It just isn’t possible. Nevertheless, there will always be people prepared to run others down for a thrilling moment of self-importance.

In our media world, thriving as it does on negative opinions and emotions, it seems quite impossible for anyone to be above gratuitous critiques; not even someone as inoffensive, not to say delightful, as David Garrett. How is it that by some commenters his modesty is portrayed as arrogance, his professional commitment as a lack of engagement, his hard-earned self-assurance as vanity? Certain German newspapers seem particularly prone to this; their journalists obviously regarding basic research as unnecessary and wilful misinterpretation as a handy tool of their craft.

Criticism may be rooted in a thorough understanding of a particular subject, yet it sprouts easily from ignorance too. It may express an objective point of view, or sheer, blinkered partiality. How does one tell the difference? The clue always lies in the way such criticism is phrased, for the chosen words are like a double-sided mirror. On the one side they will reflect a view of the subject, but on the other they show the mind that does the reflecting.

Deutschland, deine Künstler 4a

Sadly, this analysis of David Garrett as a musical phenomenon would not be complete if it did not also contain a look at the negative comments to be found on his YouTube material. However, it is fair to say that one has to scroll through acres of acknowledgement, praise and admiration to pick out remarks such as these:

“i don’t like him because he think he is the best when there are a lot of musicians better than him …he is very presumptuous” – “He is soo over rated and banking on his charisma to sell seats.” – “He’s only the fastest violinist because REAL pros don’t really go for titles like that.” –  “Cada vez menos música y mas show” – “why is he so famous? i’m sorry but I have many friends at my music college playing way better than that. really.” – “Even me can play melody on every instrument in an hour if you show me how to use that instrument.” – “Nur weil jetz wieder so´n Pseudogeiger berühmt ist, müssen ihm wieder alle zuhalten und keiner darf was gegen sagen. So wie´s immer ist.” – “Lo siento, pero no me gustó la interpretación y me uno al clamor general: quítenle el violín a David Garret por Dios!” – “Lol, he looks like he’s raping the poor violin and the violin is screaming for help but no ones noticing” – “David Garett is just a buiseness product ! HE IS JUST AN EPIC SHITTY VIOLONIST! He got no credit ! SPIT ON HIM !!!” – “Klassik meets Plastik. Echt Scheiße.” – “what a load of shit. kill the motherfucker.” 

And there is worse; unquotable words, intended to violate David’s integrity before our eyes. But such offensive cruelty must destroy any respect its author may have hoped to gain for his point of view. Instead, we are reminded of a story about a city in ancient times, whose inhabitants had sunk so low in their morals and manners that they habitually threw filth at anyone who stepped out of his house cleanly dressed.

I wish these pop artists would stick to their ‘pop music’ and stop molesting the serious art of classical music by their ‘cute buffoonery’.” – “Bach retourne dans sa tombe. C’est une putain de honte, ce mec ferait mieux de faire des concertos de Viotti.” – “Brahms would be disgusted” – “Ecco secondo me, un buon esempio di come si possa massacrare un capolavoro della musica occidentale.” – Also, das tut mir jetzt leid, aber ich störe mich nicht an seinem Aussehen oder Erfolg (den ich nicht ganz nachvollziehen kann), sondern an der INTERPRETATION. Und die ist einfach in allem over the top.” – “… so, in the end, it seems like playing for the showbiz DOES damage the artist. This is not David Garrett I heard when he was younger. It is good but is so fake and without taste. It is too f”ed up even to speak about style. Lucky I know he is a great violinist, otherwise would put him next to Edwin Marton and Andre Rieu. Pitty!!!!”

That David Garrett is so exceedingly good at what he does and so extremely successful with it just appears to fuel his critics’ anger more.

“¿Y este fue alumno de Perlman?, que trabajo perdido.” – “He really is more of a pop violinist so all he has to do it crowd please however he wants (usually by playing things fast) and his fans won’t know the difference because they aren’t classically trained.” – “Anne Sophie Mutter spielt in einer ganz anderen Liga…Oder Sarah Chang…Garret ist einfach ein Kirmesmusikant. Wenig begabt; gutausehend – ja, guter Musiker: NEIN” – “Penoso!! Stonato e tecnicamente impreparato!!  Torni al Conservatorio magari a ripassare gli studi fondamentali del violino.” – “Beethoven rises from his grave to tell this man to stop” – “Flash those lights, amplify those instruments, play it LOUD, play it FAST without an iota of nuance, no feeling other than, LOOK AT ME… ten spotlights on ME….look at how I can bastardize a real work of music. There is nothing going on here other than the lowest common denominator bullshit to make the unwashed think they are hearing Beethoven… And the angels wept.” – “Motherfucker !!!!!! You have no respect for Brahms you son of a bitch”

It is all in the eye of the beholder, the eyes’ view expressed through the mirror of the mind, and that mind reflected in its words … to say nothing of syntax, spelling and punctuation.

In addition, a controversy concerning the cultural value of different types of music – classical versus popular – is rambling on, caught up in a loop that would make Möbius proud. The cultural establishments of Europe, and of Germany and Austria in particular, have long felt maternally possessive of Classical Music (with capitals) and regard themselves as the rightful guardians of this Holy Grail, with all of its attending rites and hallowed traditions. Such ladies and gentlemen of advanced maturity, of venerable lineage and refined education, set in their ways and unshakeable in their beliefs, naturally suspect anyone who does not conform to their exclusive rituals as musically inferior and as having sold out for cheap and dirty “softpornpopclassicjunkfood”. They remain fearful of contact with that strange race of musicians whose sounds and shows might be a threat to the classical tradition.

There is a decided overtone of segregation in those arguments put forward by journalists of the feuilleton, concerning the imperative need to preserve the purity of classical music. But they rant in vain, for it has ever been the way of history and evolution to send outdated notions to the fossil record. In overriding those carefully guarded boundaries, musicians such as David Garrett are helping their demise along, and no wonder the border guards don’t like it.

“He was really an outstanding classical Violinist. A hope for classical music. It´s gone. Now he is a young Andé Rieu. Well, de gustibus non est disputandum.” – “Er bedient die Erwartungen seines klassisch ungebildeten Publikums und hat damit großen Erfolg.” – “What could’ve been if he continued playing classical… I respect his decision to become a pop and rock player but he had such a bright future as a classical musician. It’s kinda sad (to me) listening to this and then seeing how he’s playing now.” – “Er möchte gerne ein ernstzunehmender klassischer Musiker sein, hat aber zugunsten des schnellen Erfolges seinen Tiefgang aufgegeben. Ich glaube nicht dass er diese großartige Form seiner jungen Jahre jemals wiederfinden wird.” – “este hombre no sirve para la musica clasica.” – “Ein absolutes Ausnahmetalent hat sich leider selbst auf Disneyniveau begeben. So schade!” – “I would play it differently. not enough Italian soul . sorry Dave!!!!” – “Als inszenierter Marketing-Zombie erreicht er natürlich die Massen, die für jeden Dreck dankbar und empfänglich sind und einen simplen C-Dur Akkord nicht von einer Autohupe unterscheiden können.”

Kreisler, Baden-Baden 4
While David Garrett obligingly fit the strict mould of the classical soloist as a child and a teenager, they had no problem hailing him as a legend in the making. Now that he has the makings of a legend and his skills are more impressive than ever, these are suddenly seen as lacking. He is perceived as aesthetically vulgarized by his crossover excursions and declared forever ruined by the corrupting contact with pop and rock music, which must necessarily have prevented his maturation as a serious classical musician.

It is a perspective one can certainly choose to assume, though it is not mandatory to express it with spitefulness. Does an offensive attitude really prove journalistic independence of mind? It just makes those who disagree wish they could lay protective wings about David and tell everyone to shut up and leave him alone.

But David Garrett already carries a magic cloak against revilements. Its fabric is woven of words too, but these are words of understanding, of expert acknowledgement and well-founded praise, and their protective power springs from the indisputable eminence of the musicians who uttered them.

There is Ida Haendel, herself a child prodigy and world-class violinist, whose recording career for major labels such as EMI and Harmonia Mundi now spans nearly 70 years. She is a member of international juries and therefore in touch with the great new talents of the times. Her honours and awards include the title of Commander of the British Empire, an honorary doctorate of the Royal College of Music, and the 1982 Sibelius Prize. For years, she witnessed and supported David Garrett’s development as one of his highly esteemed mentors and so came to know his musical qualities better than most.

Ida Haendel

In her words: “Where he gets his talent from? You’d have to ask God. I believe it is something mystic … something beyond what we know. Either you have it, or you don’t. You can’t learn talent; nobody can teach you talent.” – “You should be allowed to do what your heart tells you to do. If he loves it, let him do it. There is nothing wrong with that. He can be a wonderful classical violinist and do rock music too, if it gives him joy. Why not? Rock is also art, I don’t deny it. If I had his gift, I might play rock too …”

Yehudi Menuhin, pre-eminent violinist of the 20th century, considered David Garrett “the greatest violinist of his generation.”

Yehudi Menuhin

Among his credentials is the founding of the Menuhin Festival Gstaad in Switzerland. He also established the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey and the music program at The Nueva School in California; and, in 1965, he received an honorary knighthood from the British monarchy.

Zubin Mehta is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Main Conductor for Valencia’s Opera House, Chief Conductor of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival and former Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He too witnessed David’s development through the years, from child prodigy to established musician, and performed the Brahms Concerto in D major with him and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as recently as 2013.

Zubin Mehta

In his considered opinion, “David Garrett sacrifices his beautiful tone and his wonderful technique for the work. In the end one hears only the music and does not merely admire the talent.” – “I am really very much impressed by the truthfulness of his playing. I entertain the hope that David will bring all generations to the concert halls of classical music.” – “He plays like a soloist. You cannot hold him back. There are such individuals, sometimes. Not very often, and that is because … it is something mystic, I believe.”

Itzhak Perlman“He is a wonderful violinist with excellent technique and natural musicianship. He will always perform with artistry.”  

Itzhak Perlman 1

Perlman is not only a world-renowned violinist, but also a teacher of wide experience who held a faculty post at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College from 1975. In 2003, he was named the holder of the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Chair in Violin Studies at the Juilliard School, and it was mainly this fact that drew David to New York, for the chance to study with him.

All you who attempt to criticize David Garrett: do your credentials match those listed above? If not, you would do well to remain silent. Who are you to know better? Has a highly regarded composer ever said of you, as Eric Ewazen, composition teacher at Juilliard since 1980, said of David: “As a violinist, his spectacular, heartfelt and expressive playing already dazzled – even when he was a student – those of us who had the great pleasure of teaching him, and we recognized his extraordinary gifts and his amazing talent.”

Probably not. For if you had earned such praise, you would not make it your business to lay into someone who did. So, if David Garrett’s playing does not thrill you; if you listened to it with an open mind and found it not to your taste, then of course you must go and seek musical delight elsewhere. But go quietly, because nobody will mistake your sneering for objectivity or your sarcasm for expertise. The double-sided mirror of your words does not make you look superior and well-informed. Quite the contrary. And don’t point out that you are from Cremona and have been playing the violin for thirty-eight years either. Because if you were any good, the world would surely have heard of you. So, for your own sake – go quietly.

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To be continued with David Garrett’s Your Song Serenade. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.
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(These photographs are either screenshots from YouTube or from Google Image, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended.) 


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David Garrett and the Guys

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 10

A look at the comments on YouTube makes it abundantly clear how the ladies, the girls and women see David Garrett:

“Soooo handsome and humble. Love him.” – “Guapísimo, sencillo, sensible … l love David, el mejor violinista del momento.” – “Handsome, talented artist and a sweet personality … He’s just a dreamy guy. Sigh!” – “All I can say is WOW! Great talent, gorgeous man in every sense.” – “Not only is he a hottie, he fills my heart with joy.” – “David Garrett: so schön kann klassische Musik sein.” – “He seems such a nice person and he’s so friggin’ talented!” – “Simplemente adorable, expone todos los más dulces sentimientos en segundos.” – “It is your inner beauty that is reflected in your music.” – “He is one of the most talented musicians of our generation, regularly sells out arenas across the world and looks like God’s interpretation of sex.” – “Con esa sonrisa tienes el mundo en tus manos.” – “Ein Ausnahmemensch: gutes Aussehen, Sprachtalent, Bescheidenheit und Intelligenz, und dann noch dieses künstlerische Talent – David, dein Erfolg sei dir von Herzen vergönnt!” – “Maravilhoso!!! David sai do estilo clássico para o rock com uma facilidade incrível, embelezando com perfeição seu estilo. É um Virtuoso na música e na beleza pessoal!” – “He is so sexy and handsome, and he has some really lovely interpretations. I am in love. Feeling like my soul is in heaven.” – “He is superb, and what a honey!” – “Grand virtuose! Merci, c’est original, parfait et cela permet d’ouvrir l’art du classique a de plus large horizons! Un grand merci pour cette passion intense!” – “Unvorstellbar, ohne Noten ein so langes Stück aus dem Gedächtnis zu spielen. David spielt göttlich.” – “No había conocido la perfección … HASTA HOY! Hombre de indiscutible talento y guapura!” – “This made me cry. You are an incredible musician and an amazing human being. Thank you, David” – “I’m in love!!!”

There is more – much more – of a similar nature, but these excerpts may serve to outline what it is about David that appeals to women of all ages.

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But what about the guys, the boys and men? How do they feel about him? Do they dismiss David Garrett out of hand as “that pretty fiddler” while shrugging in a superior manner, in an effort to preserve their self-worth? It would be understandable and not at all surprising. In a man’s world, ruled by competition and a pitiless Darwinian process of selection, how does any man feel about a fellow placed so far beyond the pale of fair comparison?

Let us take a look at YouTube comments by persons with such names as Antonio, Brian, Luiz, Gordon, Dirk, Tristan, Michel, Ron, Imron, Jose, Mark, Guy, Sebastian, Ross, etc. If we accept that these are not false identities, created to cover yet more female enthusiasm, then we have proof that not every man is envious, cynical or spiteful when it comes to David Garrett, for this is what they have to say:

“God, this man is awesome!” – “Sublime.” – “Wonderful. I can enjoy listening to it thousands of times. Thanks.” – “Bellissima! Magnifica! Ti da una forza esplosiva!” “I can’t believe I clapped to my laptop.” – “I started learning to play the violin because of this guy, and don’t ever regret it.” – “How does he memorize all these notes?” – “That’s really impressive!” – “Este hombre es un genio!” – “It’s actually painful to see so much talent and good looks in one guy. To those who say that there is some fairness or balance in this world, I just say two words: David. Garrett.” – “Just like Samson of the Bible was superhuman with his long hair, this is the Samson of the Violin.” –  “Garrett beweist allen, dass ein Mann kein Macho sein muss.” – “No, I’m not a girl/woman, nor am I a gay man.  His looks have zero effect on me. I just enjoy his music.” – “Super Typ!” – “Muito lindo, maravilhoso!” – “Die Kombination, die David Garrett verkörpert, ist sehr selten: Großes Talent, gepaart mit gutem Aussehen und gepflegten Umgangsformen. Er zeigt, was möglich ist. Hut ab!” – “Watching you play is moving. The passion I see in you, the joy, the absolute perfection in your music is inspiring to say the least. Often I listen, wishing I too could play so beautifully, without worry or concern showing, knowing that each note played is felt with passion and confidence.” – “Simplemente extraordinario!” – “Art in its purest form.”

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Brilliant! Face it, this Juilliard graduate would not be getting 2 to 7 million views unless he was doing it right.He makes it look so easy! – “Damn, those skills … and he’s such a spontaneous guy, moving all around the stage.” – “Großartig! Ich kann nichts anderes sagen als Respekt! “He is so polite and decent, it only makes me respect him more.”“Metallica auf einer Stradivari. Ich kann in Frieden sterben …” – “Play on, David! Awesome.”

Not so very different from the girls’ comments, are they? There is the same generous appreciation of David Garrett’s outstanding skill as a violinist, the same wholehearted recognition of his musical talent, and the same admiration of his personal qualities. Missing is the current of sexual attraction that powers so many of the female comments, yet even the men are touched in their soul by the magic of David’s playing:

“This made me cry; shit, he’s good.” – “His interpretation [of Beethoven] is fantastic and not only highly musical, but so human. If all the fanatic people in this world could feel this music, this could turn the earth into paradise.” – “Que du bonheur …” – “It takes a lot to affect me, but that moved me to tears. Beautiful!” – “No hay palabras para expresar lo bello de esta música y del fabuloso violinista que es David.” – “I don’t see God, but this performance makes me feel that He sent you. All of my pain, agony, anger and sorrow are vanished. Now I am crying and playing it for the 56th time.” – “Siento que me llega al fondo de mi alma ya que sus notas las siento que me calan el sentimiento y las siento fluir en el ambiente con mayor delicadeza, pureza y con una lentitud, llevandome a un infinito frenesi y complejo de emociones sintiendo lo poco puro que tiene mi Ser.” – “He finds more in every melody than you ever thought was there.” – “Ich finde es wunderschön, wie du Geige spielst. Da bekommt man Gänsehaut. Danke!” – “I can’t help but cry whenever I hear this, and I am not sure really why – it just touches something within.” 

Grown men have no problem admitting their tears and using prose that touches on the mystic when searching for words to describe what it is that moves them so deeply as they listen to David Garrett’s playing, and all of these comments may surely serve as positive proof that his appeal is not limited to females.

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The guys who know David Garrett best must be the members of his band, because they spend a lot of time with him and could be regarded as his current family. The crossover tours with these friends must offer him a welcome break from the loneliness of travelling as a classical soloist. As like-minded musicians who work, play and hang out with David, they are surely the only people who fully understand what his life is like, for they share the joys and rewards of his success, the challenges of life on the road, the sacrifice of a normal personal life for months on end, and the exhilarating strain of giving so much to so many, day after day, city after city and country after country.

In the 2009 Interview Höchstpersönlich – Part 2, this is what they said of him. Guitarist Marcus Wolf: “He’s a fantastic musician … He’s a good guy, fun, a handsome young man … I like him.” – Pianist John Haywood: “First, when I started working with him, it was quite scary. You respect his talent, his musicianship … ” – “He is very demanding, he’s got a severe work and practice schedule. That must be part of his genius. He is a very strong and earnest person … He’s a genius, a pretty intense guy.” – “He’s a complete star. He’s got it all: the looks, the playing, a fantastic connection with the audience. I can’t see any other way but – up!” – Drummer Jeff Lipstein: “There’s nothing not clear with David. His playing is so clear, it is so easy to follow him, and it is super fun … It’s as if he were communicating with us through his violin.”

On stage, they convey that impression of a band of brothers we like so much in musicians who form a group, and as viewers we would naturally like to get a better idea of who they all are. But this is not easy through the YouTube material, for they get little exposure in past videos of concerts.

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Most visible is Marcus Wolf on the guitar. He is shown as a dependable support and the perfect foil for David. Most invisible, as so often, is the man at the bass, Jeff Allen, himself a Juilliard graduate. On occasion we get glimpses of a drum solo or a quick look at the keyboard, but the cameras seem quite determined to keep the focus on David alone, and they usually cut away whenever Franck van der Heijden gets too close to the frontman.

Ah, that Franck! He is an eye-catching presence, a man who has the makings of a rock god himself: the stature, the looks, the talent, the skills … yet he remains very much in the background. Is this reticence written into his contract? My first impression is that he may not be getting enough credit, even though he is a major contributor as producer, composer, arranger, conductor and instrumentalist.

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It isn’t as if anything or anyone could steal David Garrett’s thunder, surely. So wouldn’t it be nice if the cameras could do what David himself did so touchingly when he dedicated a song to all those who support him in his shows? He shared pictures and humorous comments of a personal nature with the audience to make these people visible, and we appreciated it. They probably did too.

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I think I may not be alone in wishing for a more equable video coverage of the supporting cast, and I’d like to put a request out there: Could the second half of David Garrett and his Band get a little more time in the spotlight, please? We can safely promise that it won’t hurt the first half in the least.

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To be continued with David Garrett and the Critics. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.

(The photographs are screenshots drawn from YouTube, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended. The photo of Franck and David was shared on Facebook. Unfortunately I did not make a note of the source at the time, so I am grateful for any helpful hints regarding the author of this great image.) 


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David Garrett’s Musical Magic

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 3

The question has been asked: What is it that distinguishes David Garrett from other violinists? Those that worked nearly as hard as he did in their childhood and now play almost as well? Those that play in an orchestra instead of centre-stage? – The great conductor Zubin Mehta, David’s long-time friend and mentor, put it like this: “You need to have the sound of a soloist, and the temperament of a soloist … He has both.”

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But there is also David’s ability to take any hackneyed tune you hoped never to hear again – O sole mio, O Tannenbaum, O whatever – and to make it shiny and new, like the spinning of straw to gold in a fairytale. His heart, head and hands mark the boundaries of that force field in which a joyous rebirth of any – yes indeed, any – piece of music occurs before our astonished ears, takes place in the close-up transmission of cameras before our wondering eyes.

YouTube fan comments: I never get tired of watching this musical genius.” – “It always makes me happy to watch David Garrett play.” – “Maravilloso … simplemente encantador!” – “Many thanks for the magical music!”

There is such conscious clarity in every note and interval, and his playing is never overly sweet, never sentimental. The hint of edginess about the strings and the masculine vigour of his performance work equally well with contemporary and classical music: Beethoven and Brahms, Metallica and Nirvana, Tico Tico and the Czardas, Yesterday and Summertime, even Chopin and Schubert (being all about the piano) can rarely have sounded more enthralling.

“Have you ever heard anything more beautiful?” – “Como llega a mi corazón! Excelente!” – “… an extremely gifted and sensitive musician.” – “His tone is amazing.” – “Every touch of magic, perfect!” – “He adds so much to the song with his own style. Every note played with such clarity.” – “I doubt that anything he touches doesn’t transform to gold.” – “Thank you, dear David Garrett, for your fantastic music and the happiness it brings to us all!”

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David Garrett can afford to be fearless in his choices, for tags like ‘classical’, ‘crossover’, ‘cover artist’ and suchlike melt to insignificance in this, his particular process of witnessed, conscious creation in music’s universally understood language: A sequence of notes in faultless timing, a progression of harmony, a rhythm … and David’s individual phrasing that expresses a specific emotion in the most beautiful way this moment in time and his outstanding skill affords.

It seems to me that this particular alchemy – this process of turning something too-well-known into something worth listening to – is David Garrett’s unrivalled ability, seasoned with his infectious joy and musical passion. And like a magician he conjures this enchantment for our delight, time and time again, with unfailing commitment. But what he conjures is never illusion. It is truth, pure and sweet.

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To be continued … Our next topic is David Garrett and the Violin. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.

(All photographs are screenshots drawn from YouTube, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended.)