'Musical development and unique experiences'



- You are educated at The Royal Danish Conservatory, and have been studying with professor Morten Zeuthen, Jakob Kullberg, Tobias van der Pals, and quite many other teachers. What has had the biggest influence on your musical development?


Through music I have met so many inspiring people who have affected my view on music.

I once attended a master class with Anner Bylsma who said: "Your teacher is the person you play for every week, but your actual teacher is often a comment from your friend, a good book or a concert you hear.”


- Studying music is different from other studies because there is only one teacher and one student in a lesson. How did you experience this?

I remember one of the first lessons I had with Morten Zeuthen. I had prepared a Piatti Capricie, which is quite fast. After playing it, he smiled and said "very good Ida, but I know you can do it better." I wasn't really sure, because I had prepared meticulously with the metronome, and knew I had just played as fast and precisely as I was capable of. He put his big cello-hand on my shoulder and said. "Imagine you are a little impatient boy who wants to go out and play football, but your mother says, not until we have played this piece." He then played an accompaniment on the piano in what felt like double tempo. I don't know why, but for some reason it was no problem to play the whole piece like this. "Yes, that was better". he said. "Go home and practice like that".


- The Royal Danish Conservatory is the biggest conservatory in Denmark, how was the study environment?

For some years I lived at Jacob Gades residense. It is a very small place where 6 people share one floor. My friend Hanna Bendz and I had rooms just next to each other and we both studied with Jakob Kullberg. We went with each other for our lessons at his apartment, together with some of his other students. Often we stayed there until late night discussing bowing and phrasing in Bach suites, practicing minutely the angles of the bow, or the intonation of a leading note. In the summer we participated in master classes in a castle in the countryside. It was the most progressive and inspiring period.


- Your family has been involved with music for several generations. Your grandparents met through music and your step grandmother was an opera singer. You also told me about an organ player and a composer. How did you first get interested in music yourself?

My first instrument was the recorder.

It was an early summer evening, my mother and I were sitting in the low sunlight at the terrace, and she showed me how to play the recorder. She was playing on the tenor and I the soprano. I listened and looked at her fingers on the big recorder and copied on the small one. Many evenings went like that.

I was not sure if I would really get a recorder for my birthday, but when I saw the shape of the present I knew immediately what was in it.


After the summer holiday I started at the music school with my beloved teacher, Kæthe Kristiansen. She taught me to how to read music. I really liked it, but the girl I shared lessons with apparently did not. She was hiding under the chair when we had to learn to play B flat. I also really found the notation system highly useful. Learning the letters was a different situation, I hadn't really found the reason to learn spelling and reading. Fortunately my danish teacher wisely did not worry, since I was reading music fluently, and a few years later, I got hooked on letters as well.


- What is so special about your first teacher?

She is a true music lover. She was accompanying me on the piano and I was always looking forward to my lessons, to play together with her on the piano. She took her students to an english music exam every year, where you also had to play scales. She once told me that she could always hear if a student had practiced at home or not. That made me practice even more. My sisters sometimes got tired of my scales, and I then went to the chicken coop to practice instead. The chickens kind of liked it.

- What about the cello?

 As my younger sister became old enough to choose an instrument she started playing the cello. My mother and I went together with her for her lessons, and I became very attracted to this big instrument. Secretly I practiced on the cello when I thought nobody was there.

 Our house was full of different instruments and I had already been playing most of them. Apart from recorder I especially liked the violin and piano, but the cello felt so comfortable, and the base clef on the cello so logical.

When my grandparents were young, they played the violin and cello in an youth orchestra. As my grandmother heard that we were playing the cello, she got her old instruments restored, so that we could play them.

These two old instruments for me, have a very special aura to them. One is small and glowing red. It is a Stradivarius copy, and it has the most noble and clear sound. The other is warm and golden in color the tone is the same warm and soft, and when you look at it, it is, as if it is smiling to you with it's big f-holes.


I soon started playing cello at the music school as well. My cello teacher Örnólfur Kristjánsson was fantastic. He was from Iceland and possessed an almost magic skill. My younger sister and I shared cello and she had her lesson before me. When I came later for my lesson, picked up the cello and started playing, I could immediately feel if he had been playing on it or not. I some times dared to ask him if he had, and he would answer yes, as if he did not know what he had done to the instrument. It became so easy to play on and even softer. He let me play the Suzuki books and I was completely hooked. I ran home from school in every recess to practice cello.



- What is it that makes it interesting to be a musician. What do you experience in this trade which you do not find elsewhere?

When I hear a tone played on the recorder on the radio, I know which note it is. It feels as if I am playing it myself.

When I hear somebody playing the cello I know quite well what is going on in the player’s mind. Some of my cello colleagues have the same sense, andtherefore you can have very special, non verbal communication, which expresses things that can not be properly told in words.

Another interesting thing about music is playing together. To me it is one of the most subtle and intimate interactions I know of. In order to be completely tight in rhythm and to share the same musical expression, you have to use a kind of 6th sense to feel each others, you could say, state of mind, mood, musical intentions.

The most special musical experience though, is when you play together and the music starts to 'play itself', so that you together direct this 6th sense towards the music instead.


- The instrument you play is nearly 200 years old and most of the classical music the same.

Why is it that old fashioned classical music is still alive and relevant for a present day audience?


To me music is fascinating because it is kind of a language without words, which most people around the world understand. You could say that some things are more clearly expressed in music than in any other way.

I like music which expresses something positive and deep, and I think you find a lot of this in old classical music like Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart. I like that when you enjoy for example a Bach Cello Suite, your feeling is similar to the feeling Bach had more than 200 years ago.

“Another interesting part of classical music, is the combination of the technical and musical skills required. To be able to play technically demanding  pieces before an audience where you only have one chance, requires an interesting kind of mental stability. It requires steady work every day to get the motor skills, and it requires inner human diligence to express something that will do good for the listener.



- Which musicians do you admire?

A musician often catches my interest with his or her personality. I think it is very easy to know and understand a person when you hear him or her play music.

I admire Michala Petri for her noble appearance on stage and her amazing precise musical performing. And I love to listen to Yo Yo Ma's honest and sympathetic musical interpretations. A particular big influence on my musical development has been this quote by Yo Yo Ma: "To me the whole proces is never about proving, it's about sharing."







Claudia Anderson