Florian Christl, composer & pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

The pure fascination for music, and the piano. It’s been 21 years, but I still can remember the fascination I felt after my first piano lesson. On that day I found my big passion, and I immediately knew: “that is what I want to do”.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

It’s not just one thing that I can call the source of my musical understanding (or that’s influenced my way of composing the most). I guess it’s more the sum of everything I’ve ever heard. Every melody, sound, and rhythm accumulates over time. Until the point my musical mind has collected enough experience, to create something new.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

Until now I was just doing what I love. Everything has gone pretty well so far, and I’m also aware I’m at the very beginning of my career. So, I guess the greatest challenges/frustrations are probably yet to come.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

The difficulty is in the very beginning of the composing process. When I write a new piece, I usually sit down at the piano, and play based off my current mood. If you get a commissioned piece, for example to compose for movies. The emotional direction is already predetermined. So, at first, I have to try to get myself into this dictated mood, which presents the greatest challenge. After that first step I can let the inspiration go its own way.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

The piano, to me, is the instrument with the widest range of possibilities. You can express almost everything with that single instrument. But if you combine it with other instruments there are no bounds. The creation of new sounds, the interaction between the musicians and their instruments, as well as the merging of tones is simply fascinating. I love the sound of the piano, and I love the sound of strings. Combining these two instruments gives me goosebumps in every rehearsal, and every concert. This is just one reason why I love music so much. But of course there are also challenges. In my mind I’ve got a very specific idea for every composition, and how it has to sound. The greatest challenge is to make my ensemble play the music exactly as I expected it in my mind. There are details you can’t write in the score. Details the musicians have to feel, to play the piece in the right way.

Of which works are you most proud?

My new album INSPIRATION, because this album unites the highlights of my musical work so far; I just got the first copy of it. To hold this CD (I actually worked on it for the last 10 years or more) in my hands, I felt more than proud.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

I try to express my thoughts, and feelings through my music. By listening to my compositions, I want to make the audience feel like I felt, when I wrote the piece. So, I guess my compositional language is most characterised by emotions.

How do you work?

I simply sit down at the piano and play. You can’t force a melody to appear. Therefore, music is not simply a theoretically constructed juxtaposition of notes and chords, but the expression of an emotion. My melodies emerge out of nothingness. They arise out of pure inspiration; each composition is inspired by moments, feelings and thoughts. Actually I won’t call it ”work”: the process of pure creativity can’t be planned

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

I love the classical composers like Vivaldi, Mendessohn and especially Beethoven. For me he is the greatest musician of all time. No one ever will write music like he did. I’m also a big fan of contemporary composers like Ludovico Einaudi, and Max Richter.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

By listening to my music I want the people to escape from reality for a few minutes. To close their eyes and simply BE. No problems. No hurry. Just you and the music. After one of my concerts a woman said she cried in happiness, whilst listening to my music. I want to give way more people that feeling.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

It is my dream to make music and I will work every single day to make my dream come true. Maybe it will last 10 years, maybe 20 years, but I hope someday I will play concerts all around the world.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I think there is no condition of “perfect happiness”. Every one of us has his personal wishes and dreams. But what really makes us happy is not to actually reach them but pursue, work and fight for them. My personal dream is to make music. Every day I work on that dream, and therefore I am happy.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Playing the Piano.

What is your present state of mind?

I’m happy, and thankful for everything that has happened in the last few months, and am looking forward to the release of the album on March 23rd

Florian Christl is a German pianist and composer. His debut album Inspiration is released on 23rd March on the Sony Classical label.

Listen to the single ‘Moments’

More information about the album

Florian performs at Milton Court, Barbican, London, on 29 March for Piano Day – more information and tickets

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