Category: Interviews

Interview with… Two Nerds!

☆ bassoon has been considered to be a strong instrument “geek” color of the most musical instrument that there is a number, but do you have any awareness?
Michael (below M) Sebastian (following S) “(at the same time) it is! We Geek!”
☆ It is immediate answer (laughs). The same reaction was returned from a number of bassoon player we have ever encountered, but specifically what place is?
☆ I see. So, please tell me the story began to aim the professional opportunity also, met the instrument nerd.
☆ In Questions about musical instruments. Bassoon, right?’re Made of maple trees. If Moraere to tell as well as price Without brand of instrument two people know and love, features, is permissible.
☆ woodwind It is a life lead. You can indulge in watermark Soothe, lead loverly unruly to look the other way and still Pui~tsu deadline is bad. Can you divulge any trouble talking about?
☆ Do you feel the possibility of bassoon was a little hidden often in the shadow of star instruments of violin and piano, flourish as a solo instrument now?
☆ So for Munich International Music Competition imminent. This is the first challenge Michael, Sebastian is (clear up. 2 Five years ago last time) second time, please state of preparation, and for contemplation.Interview with two bassooninsts Michael Kaulartz (from Germany) and Sebastian Stevenssoon (from Sweden).


left: Michael Kaulartz,  right: Sebastian Stevensson


☆ Apparently bassoonists are considered to be the “nerdiest” musicians of all.  Michael and Sebastian, are you aware of it?

Michael (M) & Sebastian(S): Yes, yes, and yes!

☆ What a quick answer! And you sound very proud of being a nerd (laugh). I received the same reaction  from bunch of other bassoonists. Could you tell me why you think that way?

M: When I started to learn bassoon, I was not nerdy at all, but while studying in Mannheim and becoming part of the scandinavian bassoon family,  my nerdiness has developed so fast! Unless you turn to be nerd, it is almost impossible to spend such huge amount of enrgy to one single matter. I am threfore very happy that my “nerdiness” has grown so much now!

S: Of course the bassoon is the most nerdy instrument, but it fits me perfectly since I’m absolutely king of the all nerds! If you want to play something like the bassoon, you have to commit yourself a lot to practicing. That’s why almost all bassoonists and most musicians are more or less nerdy, I believe…


☆ I see. So now we would like to know how you met such a “nerdy” instrument, and the reason why you wanted to become a professional bassooninst.

M: On the way home from a family holiday we stopped at a shop for double reed instruments because my mother wanted me to learn the oboe. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any single note out of the instrument, so the salesman gave me a bassoon to try. I played a whole scale directly and told my mother: “mom, THIS is my instrument!”

S: I am from the musical family, and my father bought me Walt Disneys “Fantasia” when I was 6 years old. The film features Stravinsky’s “the Rite of Spring” which starts with the most famous bassoon solo. This fascinated me so  much that I had to play bassoon!


☆Michael and Sebastian, you both studied together with the Norwegian professor Ole Kristian Dahl in Mannheim, Germany. I have heard that you two were the most talented, the most well-behaved, the most gentlemen kind bassoon students in the European music history. Am I exaggerating?

M: Haha, you are so right! I spent very meaningful time in Mannheim. When Sebastian and I met first time at the entrance exam, Sebastian spoke to me in poor German whereas I spoke a smattering of English. We have developed our musicality, personality, language skill and friendship all together.

S: No, you are definitely not exaggerating! We spent all our time with eating bad fast food, watching beautiful girls and drinking the cheapest wine for a whole year together (laugh).

Of course we also practiced intensively and sometimes played together in the bassoon common room. Fortunately the smell of our sweaty young bodies were strong enough to scare all our fellow students away –  so we were basically kings of Mannheim Music University!

Michael and I were among the first students to start in professor Ole Kristian Dahl’s new class back in 2008. He invented a new way to play the bassoon that we made a lot of effort to learn. His method is unique and very much concentrating on technical matters that very few bassoonists could manage 30 years ago. I’m happy and most thankful for the time together there. But to be honest our professor was fascinated with our development, but not always too happy with our behavior. Luckily our charm was so undeniable that he couldn’t resist to enjoy our silly episodes.

☆ The next question. Bassoons are made of maple trees. That’s what I know all about bassoon. Please tell me more about your instruments – history, manifacturer and the price if you don’t mind my asking.

M&S: Our instruments were made by family-owned manufacturer, Hackel outside Wiesbaden in  Germany. They invented the bassoon as it looks like today. As a lot of bassoonists are craving for their pieces,  you have to wait at least 7 years to get it made.  The price is around 50,000 Euros.

During WWII there was one amateur bassoonist served as a general in the Royal English Air Forces. He knew that bombing the Heckel factory and its wood supplies would be devastating for the manufacture of the bassoons for the next 20 years (the wood is stored at least 12 years before Heckel tries to make an instrument out of  it). This general commanded not to bomb the small city Biebrich where Heckel was located.

What he didn’t know was that Wilhelm Heckel was also concerned about the future of his business. Heckel wanted to hide the precious storage of dried maple wood that was so much needed to build his bassoons, and he kept some of it in another city close by. Unfortunately the English Air Force officer had no clue that the wood was moved, and it sadly ended up with the fact that all the wood was bombed and burnt.  As a result, most instruments made in the 50s-60s are poor in its quality.

Luckily the Heckel factory revived their business, and we now both play on beautiful Heckel bassoons made in 2008.

Making of Nach Munchen4

☆ Both of you will be participating the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, September. Michael, this is the first time to take part in, and Sebastian, it is the second time for you (Sebastian challenged in 2008 and he achieved the second round as the youngest of the 16 competitors who passed the 1st round). Tell me how the preparation is going and your ambitions.

M: I am very excited, as I have an opportunity to met all the best bassoonists from all over the world in Munich.Participants are required to prepare both physically (practicing) and mentally. I have been learning how to play in the best condition even if I would be forced to perform in the very nervous situation. Mental training is very critical during my preparation and I think it is going in the right direction!

S: Last competition in Munich was a wonderful experience for me. I participated in the competition, purely because I wanted to learn something from the experience.  It turned out to be good result, which I was very proud of. I was though sad, when I ended up in the 2nd round.  Since then I have been aiming at being better in the next competition in 2013, which is just around the corner!

The repertoire contains 9 works for bassoon solo/with piano or with orchestra. It is a huge work to prepare such a program.

On the top of that, the committee has recently sent us a new piece that is commissioned for this competition called NYX.  We have only 2 and half months’ time to prepare for that. This piece seems almost impossible for bassoonists to master, however, this kind of task must be the purpose of the ARD music competition as a whole. You will for sure improve your musicality no matter how you end up.

Thank you very much and good luck in Munich!



Michael(以下M) & Sebastian(以下S): (同時に) ある、ある!僕たちは救いがたいほどのオタク!!


M: ファゴットを吹き始めた頃は、僕にオタクの傾向なんて全くなかった。なのに、マンハイムの音楽大学で教授(ノルウェー人)をはじめ、スカンジナビア系のファゴットオタクファミリーと過ごしているうちに、あっという間に自らファゴットオタクになってしまった(笑)。1つのことに没頭するには膨大なエネルギーを必要とする。そのためにはオタクにならざるを得ないし、今ではそうやって没頭できる対象を持っている自分は幸運な人間だと思っているよ。

S: 勿論ファゴットは楽器界のオタク王。自分みたいにオタクな男にはうってつけな楽器だよ(笑)。ファゴットのような(厄介な)楽器を相手取っていくには、ひとえにどれだけ忍耐強くいられるかにかかっている。ファゴット奏者に限らず、全ての音楽家はだから多かれ少なかれオタク化の傾向にあると思う。


M: あれは休暇を終えて、家へ向かう途中のことだった。母は常々僕にオーボエを習ってほしいと思っていたところから、木管楽器を扱う楽器店に寄ることになったんだ。それでオーボエを試してみたら、残念ながら1音たりとも音を出せなかった。店員さんがじゃあこれはどうかな?と僕にファゴットを差し出した。そうしたら、今度は一気に音階が吹けたんだ。「お母さん、僕の楽器に出会ったよ!」と叫んだのが、僕のファゴット人生の始まり。

S: 僕は音楽家一家に育った。僕が6歳のときに、クラリネット奏者だった父がデイズニー映画の「ファンタジア」を買ってきてくれた。その映画にはストラヴィンスキー「春の祭典」の、あの最も有名なファゴットソロの冒頭部分がサントラとして使われていた。僕はその音楽に夢中になってしまって、だからどうしてもファゴットを吹かなければならなくなったんだ。



S: その通りです(笑)。毎日ジャンクフードを食べて、可愛い女の子を目で追っかけて、ひどい安物のワインを飲んで・・・を繰り返す日々だった・・・かな(笑)。いや、練習にも本当に熱心に励んだよ。時にはファゴット部屋で一緒に吹いたりもした。けれど、若い男子学生が2人、狭い部屋に引きこもって練習するとなると・・・。ファゴット部屋は僕たちの汗の臭いで充満して、他の学生が慄(おのの)いて立ち入れないほどの惨憺たる有様だった。その部屋にはそのうち誰も近寄らなくなったよ。そういう意味ではまあ、マンハイム音楽大学の孤高のファゴット学生だった、と言っても過言ではないかな(一同爆笑)。

冗談はそれくらいにして、僕たちは2008年にOle Kristian Dahl教授のクラスに入った。彼はファゴットを演奏する上での新しい奏法を研究し、僕たちに伝授してくれた。技術向上に直結したそのメソードは大変有意義なもので、30年前のファゴット奏者には到底真似出来ないほどの進歩的な奏法だよ。教授には心から感謝している。教授は僕たちの進歩と努力には敬意を払ってくれたけれど、若い男子学生としての不品行なふるまいについては・・・(笑)。まあ僕たちの持つ天性のチャームには抗えなかったようで、僕たちがやらかしたアレコレの話を聞いては大笑いを禁じえなかったみたいだけれど。


M&S: 僕たちが使用している楽器はドイツのヴィスバーデンにある小さな家族経営の工房で作られたヘッケルというブランドのもの。今日のモダンなファゴットの原型を生み出した一家で、50,000ユーロと高額にも関わらず非常に人気が高いため、今からオーダーしても、受け取るまでに7年もかかる。





M: ミュンヘン国際コンクールには世界中の素晴らしいファゴット奏者たちが一同に集結する。そんな機会は滅多にないからみんなとの交流が本当に楽しみだよ。コンクールの参加者は練習と精神面でのトレーニングの両方が必要。極限の緊張状態でもベストな演奏が出来るように日々特訓している。精神面での鍛錬というのが僕には重要なテーマで、その点については成果が出ていると感じているよ。

S: 2008年に受けた最初のミュンヘン国際コンクールでは僕にとってすばらしい経験だった。(21歳と若かったので)入賞したいなどの邪念はなく、ただただコンクールを受けることから何かを学びたいという一念からのチャレンジだった。それでも2次予選で落とされた時は正直悲しかったけれど、同時に2次まで行けてよくやったと思ったし、次はもっと上を目指そうと決意した。それから5年後の今年、その機会が巡ってきた。



Special thanks to Yukiko Sawada Petersen!!! (英訳の校正をして下さった澤田由希子さんに大感謝!)


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