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Talent and charisma strike the right keys

Sarah Berry | New Delhi |

Life is like a piano. The white keys are like happy moments,while the black keys are like the sad ones. It is the amalgamation of both that makes life…sweet music…" This aphorism comes to mind when one hears Balazs Fulei playing the piano.

Born in Kecskemet, Hungary, in 1984, he started to learn music at the tender age of eight, giving his first solo performance as early as the age of 12.In India for the fifth time, he performed at the India International Centre at an event organised by the Embassy of Hungary and the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre.

The occasion was the Hungarian National Day on March 15, as also the 50th death anniversary of the world famous Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly.

Fulei has a powerful stage presence and the skills to connect with the audience, holding their attention till the very last minute of each concert. His interaction with the audience by introducing the pieces through story-telling, picture projections, quotations and poetry recitals,is innovative and charming.

In fact, in a new programme series, the focus is on what the piano is capable of, what the pianist can do and the magic that happens when the two meet,synergise and interact. So what has been his inspiration? "The very fact that music is so open to perceptions and interpretations, besides allowing an easy connect with other forms of art, for instance with poetry, architecture and others, is intriguing." Was it not hard to start rigorous practice at such a tender age? Fulei agrees but says that despite many sacrifices, he always remained focused on the goal of perfection.

As he matured, he brought composers and pieces closer to his listeners by 'filtering' them through his own personality. He also studied new pieces and 'built on' the older ones. What were the challenges during his journey as an artist? "There have been many challenges, but the main one has been to strike a balance between constructive and positive feedback.

Besides this, another challenge is addressing a new set of questions,not only from the audience but also the self, with each performance and creation," he says earnestly. Does any pianist inspire him more than the others? "I am interested in all periods of time. There are more than 30 concerts in my repertoire, which include those of Beethoven, Brahms and Bartok. In fact, I write the brochures for the concerts myself." Commenting on his trip to India, he smilingly says, "I look forward to my concerts in India. This time, it will be my first time in Kolkata and Bangalore, though I have performed many times in Mumbai at the NCPA. India – where life is on the go non-stop – is fascinating."

Fulei has been teaching at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music since 2012 and heads the Department of Chamber Music since 2015. He aims to address the youth more extensively as he feels that a single performance can be life-changing.

He concludes the interview by proudly announcing another feather in his cap: the Liszt Prize, one of the most prominent, esteemed awards in the world of music. At the same time, his humility is heartwarming. "My music will tell you more about me than I ever will"…the words resonate deep, as the notes of the piano echo in the mind.