Ahead of her concert on Thursday 2 November we've taken a few moments to speak to pianist Janina Fialkowska to discover what inspired her to take up playing, what her other passions in life are and how often she practices...
Have you always wanted to be a musician and how long have you been playing the piano?
My mother started me off when I was four. She was a good pianist who had studied in Paris before the war and was anxious to pass on her knowledge to her daughter. I was a willing accomplice even though I had no say in the matter. But already at age four, I thought playing the piano was lovely.
I really fell in love with music when I was eleven and heard Arthur Rubinstein play the Schumann and the Chopin E minor concertos in Montreal with a very young Zubin Mehta conducting. I was bowled over by the performance and by the emotional power the music had over not only myself but over the entire audience.
How many hours a day do you normally practice?
In 2003 and 2004 I went through a series of operations on my left arm. Before that time I regularly worked six or seven hours a day. Nowadays it is more like three hours to preserve the delicate muscles. Quite frankly I seem to accomplish just as much in the three as I did when I worked for twice as many hours because I concentrate far more and I work a great deal in my head, away from the instrument. Besides, Chopin always told his students that more than three hours practice time in a day was stupid and counter-productive.
What do you like to do apart from playing the piano?
I adore gardening having come to it late in life. My husband and I built a house three years ago and we have a lovely terraced garden where I can be found, rain or shine every spare moment of the day. I am definitely learning by doing and can’t think of anything I'd rather do other than practise the piano. I’m also a walker; I live in Bavaria and the scenery is spectacular on most of my walks around the village....and I read endless British and Canadian mystery novels
Which is your favourite piece of music to perform and why?
I don’t have one single favourite but I would count amongst my favourites as at least six Mozart piano concertos, the Beethoven 4th concerto, some lovely Schumann and Liszt pieces and anything Chopin wrote after the age of 17. Why? Because these pieces are incredibly beautiful and never lose their appeal; quite the contrary in fact, the more one listens and works on them, the more joy they bring.
Do you have a favourite venue or City to perform in?
Wigmore Hall in London and Manitoulan Island in Canada
What can people expect to see when they come to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform this November?
They will see a whole bunch of nice people from many different backgrounds and countries who have laboured for years and years perfecting their crafts to reach the top of their profession, having a wonderful time working in perfect harmony recreating for the audience some of mankind’s greatest and most beautiful achievements
Catch Janina performing alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Thursday 2 November. For tickets click HERE