Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
I came to the piano later in life than most, when I was 15. I had moved to Spain that year to study abroad and the move was very difficult for me. I was far away from my family and friends and the language barrier made it nearly impossible to communicate. My host family lived across the street from a library which contained an upright piano and I decided to begin taking lessons. I was lucky to find a dedicated piano teacher who introduced me to great piano literature and encouraged me, despite my late start with the instrument.
I remember feeling something inside of me click when my teacher played a clip of Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1. I thought – this is what it means to fall in love. I decided, in that moment, to pursue classical piano.
Music provided me with comfort, solace, and joy during that trying period of my life, and it continues to do so.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
One of the pianists who has influenced me the most is Paul Badura-Skoda, whom I met in 2013. I was initially drawn to him because of the golden sound he is able to produce. I also admire his ‘Viennese’ approach to the classical repertoire – his Schubert is among my favourites. He has offered me support and guidance from the first time I met him. I appreciate his encouragement and his sincerity, both musically and personally.
That being said, I believe that all things, musical or not, are connected. Some of the most difficult moments of life were critical in shaping the person I am today, and thus, the music I make.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I felt for a long time the need to play ‘catch-up.’ Everyone around me started playing the piano at a very young age and I felt like I was the odd one out. I remember desperately looking for other classical pianists who started in their teenage years for inspiration.*
I began to trust my ability and my artistry about a year ago. The old adage is a cliché, but it’s true – in order to become the best version of ourselves we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. I am learning how to accept my path and my progress without needing to weigh it against someone else’s.
*Richter started playing when he was a teenager, but Neuhaus proclaimed him to be a genius. You can imagine the wonders this had on my self-confidence.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
‘To be determined’ – the answer I will most likely provide for the rest of my life. I am, however, proud of my first CD and DVD, which was released in November 2018.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I feel an affinity towards classical and romantic repertoire. I feel that I give my best to Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin. Labelling specific works is more difficult – but I feel that Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3, and Chopin’s Concerto in e minor are pieces that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
A combination of long-term goals, prior commitments, and, of course, immediate desires! At the moment I am focusing on Chopin. In subsequent years I would love to make a recording of the last three Schubert sonatas.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
At the risk of sounding redundant – ‘to be determined.’ I appreciate architecture, so the Grosser Saal at the Musikverein and the Palau de la Música Catalana are both dream venues.
I have very fond memories of performing at the Villa Medici Giulini outside of Milan. Although it is an untraditional venue, I appreciate its intimate and warm setting and the enormous collection of historical fortepianos. The grounds of the Villa are beautiful and contribute to its tranquil atmosphere. I have visited three times and each time I leave I feel a little more uplifted.
Who are your favourite musicians?
My favourite musicians are probably those who have directly influenced me. These include Paul Badura-Skoda, Martino Tirimo, Andrei Gavrilov, and Enrico Pace, among others.
I recently listened to recordings by the Italian pianist Dino Ciani. The depth and profundity of his recordings, even though he passed away at the age of 32, is astonishing. His Chopin, for me, is revelatory. In addition, Dinu Lipatti’s recordings have had an enormous impression on me.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My most memorable concert experience was playing Schubert’s Fantasie in f-minor with Paul Badura-Skoda in Portugal after my duo partner dropped out at the last minute (a blessing in disguise!). Paul is a leading authority on Schubert’s music and it was an invaluable experience to share a stage with him.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
My definition of success changes. Simply, I define success as making music at a high standard and allowing the music to speak for itself. Ideally, on the best days, I define success as accessing that other dimension that only music allows us to enter. Of course, I like to share this ‘space’ with others – for me, this is the joy of performance.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Everything is connected. Work on your inner world and this will reflect in your music.
What is your most treasured possession?
My genuine love for life and for music.
“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubinstein
What is your present state of mind?
Haley Myles’ 38: The Romantic, featuring the music of Chopin and Ginastera, is available now on CD and DVD
Haley Myles, FLCM, is a bright and budding musical talent studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London. Recently she was honoured with an outstanding performance review from the Royal Society of Musicians, to the effect of: ‘an engaging performance that had grace and style… handled with assuredness and clarity.’