After the concert in the concert hall “Dzintari.”
Enchanting Alexander Rybak
He caught everyone on the hook without a fishing rod!
Article on www.ves.lv 27.06.2012. By Natalia Lebedeva. Found by Anglesina Est. Translation by Sonya Luzina. English revision by Tessa Lande and Lillian Llewellyn
– When I come to Moscow, I can’t talk about movies with my peers – the hero of “Eurovision”, violinist, composer and singer, who grew up in Norway, 26-year-old Alexander Rybak, suddenly confided in me after the fabulous concert “Fathers and Sons” in the concert hall “Dzintari”.
– Because they already have seen the new ones, but I have seen only the old ones. My mom and dad, when they visited my uncle Shurik [TN: Shurik=Sasha=Alexander] in Moscow, were always bringing the tapes and the CDs with the old Soviet movies from him – “Volga-Volga”, “Carnival Night”, “The Diamond Arm”. I don’t know new movies at all.
I found everything there – sincerity, joy, harmony. And the most important for me is good melodies. I always paid attention to the music, which was played in the old Soviet movies. Even style and genre were not so important. Different types of music elicit different emotions.
It turned out that Sasha is extremely sociable, responsive, impetuous like a missile, childlike, and totally our boy, who has an amazing, vibrant and rich Russian language, and very strong charm, captivating you in his orbit. This charm is kind and light. He called everyone “you”, regardless of age [TN: There are two forms of singular “you” in Russian: formal and informal. Alex always uses an informal one].
– Well done! You have shown the child not crazy American movies, but Russian movies, – I’m speaking to Sasha’s dad, famous musician and teacher Igor Rybak, who together with him, Michael and Boris Kazinik and our symphony orchestra participated in the sparkling concert “Fathers and Sons”.
– We tried!
– This is work of the soul – to find a tape, bring it home, tell the child: sit, listen and watch.
– For Sasha it was as well, as natural like playing the violin or brushing teeth. He thought that it should be like this, that all children in Norway do it – until a certain time. And then he found out that it is not so. But he has not changed his preferences.
Sasha Rybak is incredibly talented – we thought that the violin wasn’t laying on his shoulder, but was flying in the air next to him – he uses it so easily and naturally. He is a real virtuoso. Besides he has a strong voice with a beautiful timbre, catchy melodies composed by him, an enormous temper and A totally open connection with the audience.
He played solo Vivaldi and Bach or together with his father, or with the Kazinik family, changing to jazz, Hungarian-gypsy melodies or his own hits.
Igor Rybak was the first teacher of his son. And to the question, “How did your dad teach you?” Sasha answers:
– He very carefully and correctly chose the repertoire – now I understand it perfectly. He taught me in a very clever way. He gave me the pieces, which on the one hand, were simple, but on the other – each has its highlight. There were some interesting rhythms or something like that.
The Russian school of violin playing has a bit different tradition – a very strong musical education, they start learning scales from the beginning . If my father would teach me like this, I would have immediately left the violin – I’m sure. So he taught me in a very correct way.
My mom taught me to play the piano, but my father also plays many instruments, besides he is the conductor.
Dad gave me the violin when I was 5-6 years old. It is like they write in Russian press, in Norway they write that I was 7 years old…
– Did you start to play first, or to read?
– Oh, I even don’t remember! I’m always so embarrassed when I’m asked about my childhood … I guess I have a bad memory.
– No, you just have a lot of new experiences, they accumulate and you forget past ones. I know it very well! – I’m cheering up the musician. – And what do you think, when others sing your songs?
– It’s very good! It’s always very important for me to write such songs, which, on the one hand, are very sincere, I express myself in them, but on the other – they suit to everybody, they express the general feelings. I’m always thinking about some girl sitting in the audience… so the audience like it.
He was signing autographs for about an hour after the concert, even for small children, who looked at him with eyes wide open. And he was joking, taking pictures with everyone who asked, without being tired.
A lot of his young female Latvian fans, who came to the service entrance after the concert, greedily kissed him, but they couldn’t or didn’t want to speak Russian – they communicated in English. But Sasha, despite the 22 years he spent in Norway, saved his great Russian. How did you manage that?
– With difficulty! Even when I came to “Eurovision”, I didn’t speak very well, but now it’s fine. I began to travel more in Russia and Ukraine, previously I travelled mainly in Germany, Scandinavia, Greece, Turkey, Romania.
I try to absorb the traditions of different nations as much as possible and to reflect this into my music. I’m upset when I can’t understand some traditions.
In Belarus Sasha has two grandmothers Maya and Zina, who visit their children and grandchildren in Norway every six months. The favourite dish of Sasha is Belarusian kolduny.
– My mom cooks it better than anyone else! And I love to cook meat with vegetables – I never eat potatoes, because I’m working out, and the most important for me are proteins.
Despite the fact that the family emigrated from Vitebsk to Norway 22 years ago, Igor Rybak still speaks with a charming Belarusian accent and have something similar to President Lukashenko.
– Igor, did your son deliberately choose the path of “non-classical” musician, playing popular music?
– Why? He played classical music at this concert. When he was little, I built a lesson like it was at today’s concert – we started with classical, then Hungarian-gypsy melodies and finished with jazz. I played the piano, like at today’s concert, or my wife accompanied.
Me and my friend taught him to play the violin. When I was at his age, I also sang and wrote music as he does – so it is his “inheritance”.
This is exactly the kind of concerts he gives. That’s how we build them – mixed and eclectic. It is what people need – people are satisfied and happy after the concert. And meanwhile he “makes” people listening to the classical music.
Like Misha Kazinik, my childhood friend. We met after many years – he is doing unique things! He is able to attach an audience to the classical, who focuses only on the pop music, those brought up on it.
When Sasha was 16 years old, he asked me: “Dad, who knows who David Oistrakh is? Ask any girl or boy on the street – who have heard about this great violinist? Maybe one of 1000, who studies in the music school for gifted children. But everyone knows “The Beatles” and “Abba” ! ” I understood him – of course, all musicians want attention.
Sasha finished music school for gifted children and the Conservatory in Oslo. He absorbed different cultures – because he studied in Norwegian secondary school.
All in our family are Slavic, but different – Russians, Belarusians, Poles. My great-grandmother Kwiatkowskaja, who died on the “Titanic”, was a soloist of the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre – a noblewoman from Polish gentry. What a voice!
– You’re a good teacher, judging by your son…
– I studied at an excellent school – the Minsk Conservatory. People attract to me, because they see results. My student Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad has won “Eurovision Young Musicians 2012” in Vienna
I’m teaching conducting at the music school for gifted children in Oslo, but generally I teach the violin in my own private music school. And they say about all of my students, when they graduated from colleges and conservatories, that it is very rare when you can find such musical children. They play in different countries, they are soloists in the different orchestras. More than 200 people for 20 years.
I am frequently invited to chair the selection committee in the music schools in Oslo. Even yesterday I was supposed to be the censor (in Norwegian chairman) in some State Music School, but I came here.
– Does Sasha have enough time for girls?
– All of his girlfriends have been my students. Maybe I bring them up especially for him? ..
– But why did you leave [Belarus]?
– After Sasha won the “Eurovision”, I got a call from Minsk’s newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” and they asked the same question. I replied with a joke: “I understood that I should bring our Belarusian culture to the West.”
My grandfather Nikolai was an Orthodox priest and he was arrested in 1937 because of that. On my mother’s side, we had well-known Polish surnames – Savitskie, Strunitskie, Kwiatkowskie, Reformatorskie, as well as many Russian ones.
Interestingly, that Belorussia had their own gentry, nobility. But when we were under Poland they said: take Catholicism or you will BE expelled from the gentry. And our ancestors wanted to remain Orthodox. Therefore, now it is considered that there wasn’t nobility in Belarus. Like in Norway after the Vikings – they think so, but in fact there was …