Judith Jáuregui, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I am the only one in my family who is a musician, but my parents always wanted my sisters and I to have an education beyond regular school; they wanted to bring us closer to culture, to sensitivity. My sisters did ballet and also some piano, and I – the youngest of the 3 -, started with the violin when I was 4. But I had a terrible teacher who told me at that age (!) she would cut off my fingers if I failed. I endured a year until I threw the violin down the stairs and desperately begged to start with the piano. Who knows whether I had become a good violinist, but by good fortune, the situation led me to my beloved instrument. I began with it as a game, playing was my greatest fun. And my teachers were quickly aware of my ease at the instrument, giving me the opportunity of playing my first concert when I was just 11. I grew up with the happiness of sharing music with others in a very natural way.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

All my professors have been essential, they have guided me not only in music but in life:  Laurentino Gómez, Cristina Navajas, Claudio Martínez-Mehner, Vadim Suchanov. These four have been my main teachers, and from each one I have learned, and continue to do so, different things. The love for sound, the respect for structure and style, the technical relationship with the instrument. But also human values like discipline, perseverance, overcoming challenges. Of course my family is also a big source of influence; they are not part of the musical world but they have always supported me with their love and their respect.

And I always find inspiration in nature, when I stop to look at it I find so much admiration in it: strength, power, patience, calm, beauty, sensibility, self-respect. Ideas that influence my music or my career choices.

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

The decision to leave Germany when I finished my postgraduate studies there and return to Spain, my home country, to try to start a professional career from my roots was as important as it was challenging. With nothing guaranteed but following my instinct, I rented a small flat and a piano, I started with the concerts that came from having won a competition and step by step I built a path that I have been on for the last 12 years. There have been moments of loneliness, of uncertainty, but I have learned from all of them.

In between I also decided to create a record label, BerliMusic, with which I recorded 3 albums. I founded it to have the artistic freedom of self-production, with all the difficulties that this also entails. But I was able in 5 years to create 3 very different musical journeys and especially in the last 2 albums, I had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside the great producer Christopher Alder. It was a big challenge but I definitely learnt a lot musically and also in the management aspect, and had a lot of fun doing it! Despite the positive experience, I did not find international distribution for the label and that’s why for my last album and the one that will be out soon, I joined the German label Ars Produktion.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I was very happy to release a live recording, which was the last album ‘Pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy’. It was totally unexpected, few days before my recital at the Imperial in Concert Series organised by Bösendorfer in Vienna I decided to record it as a personal memory. When I received the recording I felt that there was something special in it, the sound of the recording was not the best but the whole interpretation was true and I felt that that was the message that I wanted to convey. We live in the world of perfect image, perfect retouching, perfect editing….. I decided to opt for the authentic.

This experience in some way has changed me and now on the new album, which I am precisely working on editing, I try to have this in mind, accept the recording as something alive and respect it as much as possible.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

There are works or composers that I have been playing since I was a child. My first memory is with Schumann, I love him since I played with 8 years his ‘Jugendalbum’. His music was also my choice for my first CD in 2010 and now, 10 years later, I return to it in my upcoming album. I am comfortable in general in the romantic light of Brahms, Liszt, Chopin… where the piano sounds in all its glory. I feel very natural also in French music since I have a french side: my father was born in Mexico but grew up in France, and I was born in San Sebastian, just 20 km from the border between Spain and France. Many of my childhood memories are from the other side of the border, where Ravel was born. I am attracted to everything that has to do with the Paris of the beginning of XXth century. I have also a very special link with the music of Spanish composer Federico Mompou, with its purity, its essence.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I try to have a balance between new repertoire and works that I already know and studied, and create proposals that make some sense to me, with an emotional transition from one work to another. It may be something fluid or it may be the opposite, an idea of contrasts, but I always try to have an idea behind it. For example, for the upcoming seasons I will be working on a program linked with the next CD titled ‘The romantic soul’, with works by Clara and Robert Schumann and Brahms; I have another proposal which is ‘Universes of sound’ with music by Grieg, Janacek and Chopin; and also one dedicated to my roots ‘Latin rhythms’ with music by Manuel de Falla, Debussy, Mompou, Ginastera and Albéniz.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Well, I wouldn’t say I have a favourite one. The halls are always different because the audience is different, and although there are some spectacular acoustics, what fills me is feeling the connection with the audience, which is different every day from the one before.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are so many artists that I admire! I am amazed these days reading the memoirs of Pablo Casals. What a huge musician and person! But to name a few pianists, I am fascinated by Horowitz, Rubinstein, Backhaus, Arrau, Kempff, Larrocha, Sokolov, Argerich, Uchida, Pires…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There have been several very special concerts in the last years, either because of the repertoire, the people I played with, the hall… but I remember one recital that I played framed in the ‘Folle Journée’ in Nantes, France, as part of a social program in which music was brought to nursing homes. I played for older people who had not left this building for years. And it was so incredible to see the joy in their eyes, how they could escape mentally with the music, travel to other times or to other places through it. I was deeply touched with them.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To be free, to be personal, to be brave, to be honest.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Patience is an important concept. Be patient with repertoires, know what works can be faced in a moment and wait to have more musical and vital experience for others.

Passion for the music and life above all, it is the engine to get out of difficult times if they come.

Commitment to work seeking excellence and constantly improve ourselves.

And joy, being aware that we are privileged, that we can express ourselves with and through music and that we work with the most beautiful side of the human being, emotion.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A day at the seaside, diving in the crystal clear waters of Menorca, for example. Having a glass of wine at the sunset listening to some jazz in the background. Hug my nephews and nieces. Chat with my parents and feel them close even though we are far away. Breathe and meditate. Feel alive. Sing and dance salsa. Play without end. Travel the world by sharing music with the audiences. Have special moments on stage, alone and with other colleagues. Hear the silence of a packed hall. That’s the best applause.

Born in San Sebastian in northern Spain, Judith Jáuregui has been linked with a multicultural environment through her Basque mother and her Mexican father who grew up in France. After initial studies and a debut recital at the age of just 11, she moved to Munich to study with the distinguished Russian pianist Vadim Suchanov at the Richard-Strauss Konservatorium.

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