antal mojzerThis is the seventeenth interview in our series Weaving the Web of Finnish Orchestral Bassoonists. The series introduces some of the orchestral bassoonists from all over Finland. Each guest will get the same set of questions. Guest #17 is Antal Mojzer, principal player of Lapland Chamber Orchestra since 1993.

Did you play an instrument before you started playing bassoon?

I played the accordion and later piano before started to play the bassoon.

Who introduced you to music?

I was about 4 when attended at a big-band concert with my father. At the climax of the show the band played a piece which really attracted me. Later I have found out that it was the ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’, that time a great hit all around the world. At the last repetition of the refrain the suspension was almost unbearable for me and I was not able to resist the temptation to jump onto my chair and start to shout loudly... My father decided at the very moment to send me to music school.

When did you start to play the bassoon, and where did you get the idea from?

When I was 13 years old. We were living close to the music-school in my home town. When walking home after school I had to stop at an open window of the building. From a basement room beautiful sounds came to the street. I did not know the name of the miraculous instrument which generated the noise.

Who was your first teacher?

The player of the instrument in the basement was a student preparing for his diploma concert. He was József Gebri, later my first teacher.

When did you start to think about becoming a professional bassoonist?

In the Kodály Conservatory in Debrecen. The city had a good symphony orchestra and many of us in the Conservatory were inspired by their concerts.

When you started to play, who was your favourite bassoonist?

My teacher, of course!

What is currently your favourite recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto?

The recording of László Hara Jr.

If someone had to describe your sound in one or two words, what would they be? (you can cheat and ask someone for help with this one!)

British composer, Geoff Palmer dedicated his concerto to me. The piece was premiered in Rovaniemi. While preparing for the performance in a letter he mentioned something like: ‘Your visionary sound’ ( Dr. Palmer is a very kind person!)

If you were limited to only one piece to play for the rest of your life, (solo piece for bassoon, or bassoon and piano) what would you choose?

Reading the answers of my colleagues to this question I was very happy to discover that most of them put the solo suites of Bach to the first place. My addition to the list will be the gamba sonata in g minor by Johann Sebastian.

Who taught you how to make reeds?

My first teacher.

What reed shape do you use?

Thunemann straight shaper

What is your favourite reed-thread colour?

Any characteristic, strong colour.

What do you listen to (if anything) while you are making reeds?

Lectures and speeches of the late philosopher Roger Scruton

What is your greatest extravagance spent on making reeds?

The amount I have paid for reed material during more than fifty years - with interest it will probably be a great sum. But I’ve never added it up.

What is your favourite reed-making tool?

Diamond file.

If you had to describe the world’s best bassoon reed, what would it be like?

During all my life I hoped to find one. Now I am aware of the fact that it is not existent. But one must not give it up! There are plenty of beautiful particular solutions.

If you have ever used a website or YouTube channel to help you learn about reeds, would you like to share it with us?

Typical old school answer: I prefer books.

If you could change anything about the world of classical music, what would it be?

We must not give up standing up for the values of classical music. We have to make concerted efforts to convince younger generations about these values. We ought to educate our audience in the future.

What is the best advice you have gotten, and where from?

‘You do not need to be benefited all the time’ - Ferenc Mérei, Hungarian psychologist and educator

If you weren’t playing bassoon, what do you think you might be doing instead?

Studying history and literature

What is the hardest part of your job in the orchestra?

After many years of playing in orchestral pits and huge concert halls the close proximity of the audience was surprising when I started to play in the Lapland Chamber Orchestra. It took time to get used to play for people who were sitting sometimes just centimetres away from the players.

Can you describe something an orchestra colleague should never say to a bassoonist?

“Can you play a bit softer?” or “Can you play a bit louder?”

What is your favourite orchestral excerpt?

Lullaby in Stravinsky’s Firebird

What is your favourite memory from a concert that you played in?

I have played four of the great operas of Mozart but never played the complete Figaro as an opera performance. I thought I missed it for good. A few years ago we had the chance with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra to perform the great opera. ‘Completing the list’ was an unexpected gift from life!

What is the nicest thing another bassoonist has ever done for you?

I had a young colleague, a fellow bassoonist in Szeged when started my orchestral carrier. We spent enormous time and energy by trying to form a better section. Later he was the same person who invited me to Finland. His name is Oliver Csík, former principal of Pori Sinfonietta.

Every bassoonist seems to have a passionate hobby, what is yours?

Apart from reed making? Reading and walking with my dog.

Thanks Antal!

kartta 17