5 questions for the young master violinist Daniel Auner

Photo: Damián Posse

1. How did you come to play the violin?

As a small child I would fall asleep under my mother’s piano. And I was constantly sawing away at a cello, until no one could take it any longer. In truth, I was too small for this instrument, which is why a viola was converted through the addition of an endpin. Then, when I saw my parents, both of whom were musicians, with a violin for the first time, I was very excited. And I absolutely had to have one. First, I lifted my cello like a violin. But holding the endpin to my neck was naturally dangerous. This meant that it was easy to convince my parents to buy me a real violin.

You were already playing at the age of five. Isn’t it exhausting as a small child when you constantly have to practice?

Lots of people ask me that. But what you forget is that it’s basically hard to force a child to do anything. My parents were never strict, I simply enjoyed it. It might have meant that I needed an extra two hours before I could play football, but it wasn’t really a significant restriction on my childhood. If you make music with other children, then you find friends for life. For this is something that music does very well, it brings people together.

3. You’re a big fan of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Why?

My parents have always told me that, as a small child, I sang Mozart’s violin concerto in the sandpit in the Prater. Despite the fact that I couldn’t even read music. I was simply able to memorise the piece quickly. Mozart has an unbelievable fascination for me because he offers a very direct route to music that has a very emotional impact. Everyone can understand his ideas. This is why he is so magical, even for people who maybe don’t have so much to do with classical music. Mozart is simply beautiful.

4. Are you still nervous before you perform?

If you prepare thoroughly for a concert, then, over time, you get this nervousness under control. We aren’t robots. We can also make mistakes without the audience rising to its feet and pelting us with tomatoes. You’re more likely to be nervous because you want to play well. You have to accept, however, that you’re always going to make little mistakes. But this doesn’t necessarily diminish the impression that you have on the audience. It’s more important to play with conviction than to only care about being as perfect as possible. Beethoven said that, for him, a wrong note played with conviction is not a mistake but an interpretation.

5. You’ve often played in the Bank Austria Salon. What do you like about this location?

I find this proximity between the audience and the artists particularly wonderful. During the interval and before and after the concert you can really chat individually with the members of the audience. Drink a glass of wine and establish a personal contact. Thanks to the size of the Salon, the listener has the sense of being surrounded by the sound. This is really important with chamber music: You can immerse yourself in the music. And this requires perfect acoustics, which allow you to let yourself go completely.