by Tanya Levy (MGBH)
In this section we continue our tradition of promoting up-and-coming artists. This interview features a young pianist from Croatia – Ivan Krpan (MGBH) – a winner of the prestigious Bussoni Competition. This young musician strikes the audience with his refined and sophisticated performance style.
Here is a sneak peak into his life.
PPM: Please, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your family.
IK: I was born in Zagreb – the capital of Croatia. I have an older brother Martin and a younger brother Fran. Both of my parents are musicians. My mother is musicologist. She works on the Croatian Radio. My father is a violinist. He is a professor at the Music Academy of Zagreb. My brothers and I grew up surrounded with music, and all three of us started going to music school when we were seven years old (I started a bit earlier – when I was six). Today Martin studies violin in Leipzig, and Fran studies cello at a local music school. Unlike Martin and I, he is very interested in sports and plays water polo.
PPM: Who introduced you to piano and under what circumstances?
IK: We had a piano at home, and my mother showed me how it works when I was a child. That’s how it all started.
PPM: What is music/classical piano education like in Croatia and how is it structured?
IK: We have a very good music educational system in Croatia. There are primary and secondary music schools that are separate from regular schools. They offer not only lessons in playing an instrument, but also a lot of music theory subjects. Primary music school has a 6-year curriculum, and pupils learn to play an instrument as well as study solfeggio. In higher grades, there is also orchestra or choir. Secondary music school offers a 4-year program, which is more complex then that of a primary school. It consists of a many subjects, with the main one playing an instrument. The rest of the classes are music theory, solfeggio, harmony, polyphony, chamber music, choir or orchestra, history of music, musical forms, and so on. One can obtain a comprehensive and well-rounded music education here in Croatia. It can be very challenging to attend both regular school and music school, because there are a lot of subjects and not much free time for students. The good thing, however, is that music schools in Croatia are not very expensive. So, anyone who is interested is able to attend a music school. After secondary music school, there is Music Academy which is part the University of Zagreb. It is a five-year program. After five years one can obtain a Master’s Degree. I am attending the last, fifth, year of Music Academy.
The good thing, however, is that music schools in Croatia are not very expensive. So, anyone who is interested is able to attend a music school.
PPM: What competitions have you participated in so far? Which teachers have you studied with and who are you currently study with now?
IK: I participated in many national and international piano competitions such as Mladi Virtuozi Competition in Zagreb, EPTA Competition in Belgium, Piano Competition in Encshede (The Netherlands), Chopin Piano Competition in Moscow, and Mozart Competition in Zhuhai (China). The biggest competition I took part in was Ferruccio Busoni Competition in Bolzano. I had two teachers – Prof. Renata Strojin Richter (MGBH) in Blagoje Bersa Music School in Zagreb and Prof. Ruben Dalibaltayan (MGBH), who I am currently working with at the Music Academy of Zagreb.
PPM: In 2014, you won the 1st prize at the EPTA in Bruxelles. What was it like for you?
IK: I remember this competition because it was my first competition after I entered the Music Academy with Prof. Dalibaltayan. So, that was significant for me. During the competition I stayed with a host family, and that’s how I met Anne-Sophie Snyers (MGBH), her husband Edouard (MGBH), and their three children. They are really nice people, and I will always remember this competition because of them. It was very good experience for me.
PPM: What musicians do you admire the most and why?
IK: It’s hard for me to answer this question. A lot of people ask me about my favorite composers or musicians or music, and I always tell them that I cannot really say. That’s because I can’t choose one or two people, but I enjoy the array of composers out there. You can compare good musicians and composers to friends: one is this way and the other one is totally different, but they have their reasons to be who they are, and I appreciate each one of them, but cannot say who is better. In fact, it is the diversity that connects them, so I enjoy getting to know all of them.
You can compare good musicians and composers to friends: one is this way and the other one is totally different, but they have their reasons to be who they are, and I appreciate each one of them, but cannot say who is better.
PPM: What are your performance plans for the 2017/2018 season?
IK: There are a lot of plans for this season. First of all, I have a concert next week in Zagreb with my girlfriend Paula Ropuš who is also a piano student at the Music Academy. We play a piano duo. In December, I will play Liszt’s Concerto No. 1, also in Zagreb. In February, there will be few recitals in Italy. In March, I will play at the Edvard Grieg Museum in Norway. In May, I will give few performances in South Korea.
PPM: What is your favorite place in Europe and why?
IK: My favorite place in Europe is Zagreb. I love that city not only because it is my home, but also because it’s really beautiful.
PPM: What was it like traveling to China? What cultural differences did you find most surprising?
IK: First of all, it was exhausting. It was really a long flight and a big time difference. But I am glad that I was there, because I learned a lot. The cultural differences are quite significant, so there were a lot of strange situations with people there. In general, Chinese were very precise – so precise in everything that I had a feeling they are always scared that they will make some mistake. In Croatia, everything is a lot more relaxed.
PPM: Do you have any sort of ritual before you go on stage?
IK: I don’t do or say anything special before I go on stage. However, I always take time to prepare mentally, and I always try to achieve the same thing: to be relaxed and to clear my mind. I can never fully achieve that, but I try get as close as I can.
PPM: What’s your favorite cuisine?
IK: My mom’s, of course. 🙂
PPM: What are some of your favorite books?
IK: I read a lot, so it depends on what am I interested in at the moment. I am interested in many things. Sometimes, I read old literature, for example, epic poems. Sometimes, I read about religion or history. Sometimes, I read about art or music. Nothing specific that I could mention here though.
PPM: What other things do you love besides playing piano?
IK: I love going on nature walks.
PPM: Who are the people you admire the most and why?
IK: I admire the people I learn from. That would be my parents, my professor, and my girlfriend. I admire them for one reason – they showed me how to live and how to love.
PPM: What was is like to prepare and participate in the Busoni competition?
IK: The Busoni Competition was a big challenge, but it was also a joy. It was the biggest competition I participated in and it was exciting – after all, it is one of biggest piano competitions in the world. The competition lasts for two years: first is preliminary round and then there are four rounds the following year. The repertoire requirements are very demanding. You have to play lot of music pieces – the preparation process is not easy. During the competition I stayed with a host family. My hosts were Eva Bernhard (MGBH), her daughter Ana Lea (MGBH), and her husband Franz (MGBH). They are beautiful people. The time spent with them was really a joy for me. All in all, I learned a lot during the Busoni Competition, and it gave me a lot of opportunities to play abroad.
PPM: What languages do you speak?
IK: I speak Croatian and English.
PPM: What do you like to do on Sunday afternoons?
IK: Every Sunday is different. Last Sunday, I played piano. Sometimes I go for a walk or go out with my girlfriend.
I think that art in general has to be spiritual, because it is a way to express oneself. A way to express not only one idea, but the whole story of life with all its diversity.
PPM: How is music connected to spirituality in your life?
IK: Music is a very spiritual thing for me. I can say that music has a central role in my life, because it somehow stands in the middle and connects everything that I experience. I think that art in general has to be spiritual, because it is a way to express oneself. A way to express not only one idea, but the whole story of life with all its diversity. So, I think that an artist’s job is no less but to give himself or herself to others. This is the most beautiful thing there is. You can also look at it from the religious perspective, and you will find a lot of similarities.
PPM: What affects your repertoire choices?
IK: I always try to play music that I feel connected with. Sometimes, when it’s not the case then I play works that I am interested in and during the process of practicing I make a connection with that music, so in the end it’s always about the connection and about love.
PPM: Do you have a career dream?
IK: My dream is to play, explore music, and enjoy the process.
PPM: Thank you, Ivan! And may God help you fulfill your dream.
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