Day 6: Ben's blog

Today was another really cold, rainy and snowy day in Vienna!

It was the last day of lessons for the Vienna ECMA session, and for the first time all week we didn't have an early start which was nice.
In the afternoon we played for Shmuel Ashkenasi for the second time. We played Beethoven's Op.70 no.2, 4th movement and Op.1 no.1 1st and 4th movements. He is a wonderful musician and really kind person. He produces such a pleasing and beautiful sound from the group. I think one of the main features of his approach is to get the pianist to play much softer than other teachers typically want. Volume-wise, the instruments are on a much more equal level this way and the strings never have to force anything. It is a funny experience when you think you are playing as softly as one can possibly play, only to have Mr Ashkenasi stop and say "Im sorry, I just simply cannot hear the strings"! He is also a brilliant violinist and had a lot of practical advice for Emma.

Straight after this we played for Erich Hobarth. For him, we played Beethoven Op.70 no.2 2nd and 3rd movements. We have played this pieces many times, but it was really great to have his perspective today. Hobarth has such a great fantasy. Images and creative ideas seem to flow freely from him. I really like how freely he interprets the music of Beethoven. I like the idea that this music is not just ancient music that we recreate, but living music that can be just as meaningful to us today as is was back then.

After coming from the lesson with Ashkenasi, it was an interesting (and rare) experience to find that Hobarth was asking me to play more loudly, especially in the bass. I find it fascinating that something as seemingly objective as general balance between the instruments is actually just another subjective element that changes depending on the style of playing. Music is so personal!

In other news, we are $300 away from reaching our Pozible target, but we only have about 60 hours to go before donations close! I hope we get over the line!!