Music Director Peter Oundjian Interviews the Takács Quartet

September 16, 2020

As part of the Colorado Music Festival’s Virtual Festival in the summer of 2020, Boulder’s renowned Takács Quartet performed at the Festival’s summer home, Chautauqua Auditorium. 

During their visit, Festival Music Director Peter Oundjian — who spent 14 years as a member of the Tokyo String Quartet — spoke with Takács’ Edward Dusinberre (first violin), Harumi Rhodes (second violin), Richard O’Neill (viola), and András Fejér (cello) about their individual paths to music and the unique and intimate experience that comes from performing as a quartet.

Watch the interview or read the full transcription below.

Peter Oundjian: We are very delighted to have with us on the stage of Chautauqua, the wonderful Takács Quartet. And I would like to start off by asking András who is a founding member of the quartet, which was founded in 1975. Am I right?

András Fejér: Absolutely correct.

Peter: Okay. So tell us a little bit about how the quartet came together.

András: Well, we’ve been classmates at the Franz Liszt Academy and I grew up with string quartets. So this was our goal all the time. That we would do it professionally and seriously and put in as much work as possible into it because the repertoire is unmatched. And somehow it always feels like it consists of four sympathetic soloists, and we all love that idea.

Peter: And was there a tradition, a very strong tradition of quartet playing at the Franz Liszt Academy? I mean, I had a teacher who’d been at the Franz Liszt Academy when I was growing up in London and he never mentioned the string quartet to me once because he was [all about] discipline… scales… and my big treat was to play the E Major Prelude for an hour a day for about six months. But of course there is a tradition, a great tradition, of quartet playing. But what was it like at that time at the Franz Liszt Academy, were you all playing quartets a lot?

András: We played a lot and what never worked for Hungary historically, being in the center of transit routes East and West and North and South, it was ideal for string quartet culture being close and together with Prague and Vienna. So this was just a wonderful, wonderful, fertile ground of history, of old, great men’s great stories. And of course the literature, which was written around us.

Peter: And at that time, of course we were what we would call behind the Iron Curtain, so for several years after that. So what was it like for you to be able to travel and even to do competitions? Was it fairly easy to get away?

András: We always felt lucky because we were closest to Austria, which was the Western divide. And being historically close to Austria, we had the same attitude, a little bit of… not quite as disciplined as our other esteemed neighbors, just a nice mix of joy for life, a little delightful corruption. And somehow it all melted in a wonderful feel.

Peter: Interesting, because I was talking to Calin Lupanu, the Concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra. And he was saying, growing up in Romania, that he practiced nine hours a day from the age of 10. I’m guessing that you probably cut off at about eight and a half.

András: Yeah, I was close, but not quite, not quite nine. So it was the reason we felt so lucky already back then in our teenage brain, that we saw what discipline and oppression can go under the flag of communism. So we always felt an idle compromise, borderline this borderline that, in the meantime enjoying Schubert and Beethoven.

Peter: Fantastic. And so your career developed quite fast. I think you won some competitions and then you had a recording contract and you were playing all over the world, including in the States in the early years. And then how many years have you been playing at the point where… Gábor was his name? Right?

András: Yes.

Peter: Gábor Takács. He left in what year?

András: Oh, we [had] already been in America, in Boulder at that time. So Gábor, to quote Zoltán Székely from the old Hungarian quartet, “He’s only been our leader in the first 18 years.”

Peter: Is that what Zoltán said?

András: Székely was talking about Moszkowsky, because we already only knew of Kuttner. And then when we were trying to scratch the subject, he sort of dismissed, “Nah, nah, just the first 18 years,” said Székely. 

Peter: How old was he when he said that? Almost a hundred, probably.

András: Yeah, we’ve been with Banff.

Peter: Exactly. That’s where I met him. Well, so 15 years is not much when you’re a hundred.

András: Yeah. [laughs] 

Edward Dusinberre: I have to say just, of course I, as a student, I knew the Takács Quartet, and Gábor Takács had an extraordinary musicianship and vitality in his playing and I think amazing charisma on stage and played right on the edge of his seat and took extraordinary risks with his playing. Which was, I think, part of the great dynamism that audiences found. And so as a student, I very much admired the whole quartet and my predecessor.

Peter: Well, let’s talk a little bit, Ed, about that whole process, because you obviously grew up in England, and at what age did you leave England and come to America?

Edward: So I came to America in 1990, which… I’m not very good at math so that made me sort of 20, 21-ish, I think 21, 22, something like that. And I came to the Juilliard School.

Peter: You came to the Juilliard School?

Edward: Yeah. Yeah. I studied with Dorothy DeLay with whom I think you’re also familiar.

Peter: I certainly am. And where had you been studying in London?

Edward: I studied at the Royal College with a wonderful Ukrainian violinist called Felix Andrievsky. He was a very colorful teacher, very inspiring. And actually when I first sat down to play with the Takács guys, a lot of their sort of approach to music reminded me of my old teacher.

Peter: So you studied at Juilliard for these three years with Dorothy DeLay and presumably you played quite a lot of quartets, both at the college and at Juilliard, but never in a kind of professional performing quartet, correct?

Edward: Yeah. I mean, if I had known what was going to happen, I would have played many more quartets when I was in London. I had a nice group at the Royal College, but actually when I was at Juilliard, I played more piano trios. But I think chamber music for me had a lot to do with growing up in England, in Cambridge, a lot of fun family chamber music. Rather sort of raucous occasions, sort of hacking through staff, having a great time, sort of breaking down and cracking up laughing and starting again and having good foods. So chamber music was always something that was tremendously fun.

Peter: So people in your family played instruments?

Edward: Yes. My parents both played violin as amateurs. My grandfather was a good pianist. My grandmother played the oboe, my cousins all played. So we had some pretty good family music. Well, maybe good isn’t quite the word, but we had great fun. [laughs] 

Peter: So now you’re sort of 24, 25. And how were you approached by the quartet?

Edward: I was actually approached by my teacher, Dorothy DeLay, who I think a friend of the quartet and András had been in touch with. And she asked me if I’d be interested in auditioning. So that was a sort of a lucky connection for me. And I came out to Boulder initially just for a couple of days to meet the guys and read music together.

Peter: Now you write about this whole experience very beautifully in your book, which is called Beethoven For a Later Age. And it’s a wonderful book by the way, if anyone hasn’t read it and would like to learn a lot about the Beethoven Quartets and also about the Takács Quartet and just about music in general, and about many other things, I highly recommend it. Really beautifully written. But I want to just go back to András for a moment because I’m curious, why did you not manage to find a Hungarian violinist? And you know why I’m asking you this, but I’m asking it anyway.

András: Funnily, this idea only came from friends, supporters, and the audience. I mean, we never thought of our future first violin in terms of nationality or these kinds of things, because what was most important [was] that the gut feeling should be the same, the ideas, the reaction to ideas. Possibly the school, which was not so much of a “must” because we feel… I mean, during the rehearsals or during the audition, you can feel of the other’s reaction, if he gets it or there’s a trouble just analyzing and understanding the basic wish. So in this way it was just wonderful.

Peter: Yeah. You know that I went through a very similar experience because for several years after I joined the Tokyo Quartet, everybody other than the three other members of the quartet were wondering why they hadn’t chosen a Japanese player. And the truth is that that has absolutely nothing to do with the language of music and the feeling of music in the end. Which is one of the things that makes music so lovable and so powerful. 

Peter: So Ed, there are a few other areas in which we have some similarities, but I don’t want to hog the conversation about just the two of us, but the irony is that you joined three Hungarians, I joined three Japanese. I’d also gone to the Royal College of Music, also studied with Dory DeLay at Juilliard and joined also immediately after I left at the same age as you. I think you were 25 or maybe you were even 24. Whatever. And there was one other strange coincidence… what was the instrument that you played on when you first joined?

Edward: Yeah, it was a strange coincidence that the group was playing on a loaned set of Amati instruments. And I guess that was the same set that the Tokyo Quartet had played several years before. And in fact, I have to say our founding second violinist, Károly, was rather generous about that because actually when I joined the group, he was playing the instrument that you played, the Amati with its decoration. And after we’d been playing for a while, that was the more powerful of the two instruments. And of course, he had a fantastically powerful gutsy sound and I was new in the group and still trying to find my way. And he kindly allowed me to play on that violin, which was, looking back on it, extremely generous of him.

Peter: Very nice, very nice. But it is just such an odd coincidence, which you and I have been aware of for a little while.

András: Just a little, little sweet story to get rid of later on, as you say, Louis XIV. This is what [Károly], our second violin, insisted. I mean insisted at all costs, opposite Charles Beare in London. “No, this is the Louis XIV!” and Charles goes, “Sorry. Sorry, for me, this is the Prince Eugene or whatever.” “No, no, this is the Louis XIV.” So [Károly] got in the argument with the foremost expert of the world. So it was extremely fun.

Peter: Good for him. I don’t know where it came from, but we were always told it was the Louis XIV. It was beautiful, inlaid and–

András: It sounded extremely noble, fancy, and otherworldly, but no. [laughs]

Peter: So now, Harumi, you have also grown up in a tradition of string quartets as we all know, but I don’t know if everybody’s aware of that. So tell us a little bit about the environment in which you grew up in New York City.

Harumi Rhodes: Oh sure. Both my parents are string players. My father is a violist. He was a violist of the Juilliard String Quartet. And my mother is a violinist and she was in the Gala Mira String Quartet for over two decades. So yeah, it was part of the family. I heard music all around me and in particular string quartets.

Peter: And I don’t know if I told you this, but when I went to Juilliard in 1975, I formed a string quartet and my teacher was your daddy by my first year.

Harumi: I hope he was nice to you.

Peter: Oh, wonderful. I mean, so kind, so thoughtful, so intelligent in his approach. And oh, it was really inspiring. And I actually… Once, for some reason, he couldn’t teach at Juilliard. So we came to… You weren’t even born, but we came to what I assume was the apartment that you still lived in after you were born and we had a lesson in the apartment. So no, your father is a great musician and very, very respected. How many years did he play in the Juilliard quartet?

Harumi: I hope I get this right. I think it was 47. I believe.

Peter: So András, you’re getting close. [laughs] So Harumi, growing up with two parents who played the violin and viola, was it something you wanted to do or did it just seem to you like that’s what everybody did? How did you start playing the violin?

Harumi: Well, my parents felt strongly about having some music in the house for both me and my sister and so they started both of us on piano. And my sister was a beautiful pianist and played very elegantly and very beautifully on the piano. I had a slightly different experience. I found the piano very scary because I was five years old and the piano seemed huge to me. And so I was intimidated just looking at it. And I was also scared of falling off the bench and it was a complete disaster. And so I begged my parents if I could try the violin because I felt like it would be more comfortable and I loved singing as a kid. I was always singing very loudly in the house and I thought the violin would be a little bit more in my range. And my mother said, “Absolutely not. Forget it. Pick anything else. Anything else, just not the violin. Please, not the violin.”

And my father sort of went along with that, but I kept asking and asking, probably because they said no is probably why I wanted it so badly. And then I remember very clearly one day I was about seven years old and I remember at the dinner table asking again, “Please, please, can I try the violin?” And I remember my father saying in a very quiet whisper to my mother, “Hiroko, why don’t we just let her play a little bit?” And my mother said, “Okay, all right.” And so I started playing and I didn’t study with my mother. I studied with a close friend of the family and my mother and I had a wonderful newborn friendship through the violin, which was very beautiful.

Peter: Good thing you didn’t study with her because it might not have been the same story.

Harumi: My mother is very wise. [laughs] 

Peter: Fantastic. How old were you when you started playing then? Was it six or seven or something like that?

Harumi: It was seven when I started the violin.

Peter: So you’ve obviously played chamber music all your life pretty much. And so tell us then how this all happened that you became a member of the Takács Quartet.

Harumi: Well, I joined the faculty at the University of Colorado at the College of Music here in Boulder about six years ago. And I was a full time violin professor and my office was directly across the hall from the Takács Studio. And I had collaborated with both Gerry and András in several faculty concerts on different recital series. And there was one summer in particular when [Károly] was out for a few months and I played a few concerts during the summer with the Takács Quartet. And that was thrilling and really exciting for me during that time. And then when [Károly] retired, I was asked if I would like to join. And it was an absolute no-brainer. I said yes immediately. In fact, I remember when I was asked if perhaps you’d like to think it over or something? And I just said, “Yes.” So I was just very excited and just moved offices literally across the hall, which was really wonderful.

Peter: Fantastic, fantastic. I mean, we’ll get a little bit to the meaning to the quartet of CU Boulder and that whole relationship, but I want to go over to Richard. We mentioned a little bit about your playing with James Ehnes and his wonderful string quartet with Amy and Eddie. And how many years did you play with them?

Richard O’Neill: Well, it’s a little funny because I know all of Jimmy and Amy [Schwartz Moretti] and Ed [Arron] through this festival in Seattle called the Seattle Chamber Music Society. They have a summer festival and a winter festival, and I’m from Washington state. And the former director was a woman named Toby Saks, a cellist I love, and she was a dear friend and she unfortunately passed away. But Toby basically invited me into her life, into her house, to be basically the violist at the festival, her festival for many years, where I’d be there the entire summer playing with everyone that came through. And of course, before I knew James was to become her successor, I played with James and I think I played at Janáček Quartet with James and Jolynne and Robert deMain.

And it was one of those festival experiences where you have a weekend to put together Janáček 1, but it was sort of one of these amazing things where the synergy and everything came together very quickly. And in 2010, Amy actually was the person that came up with the idea why don’t we have a concert of Bartók 4 and Opus 74 Beethoven. And it was just a really wonderful time. And so the four of us started this amazing project together. James, he’s so incredibly in-demand. I mean, oftentimes when we’d meet, he’d be playing with the Chicago Symphony. He’s like, why don’t we all fly to Chicago and rehearse all day in the morning, and then James will go downstairs and play Tchaikovsky Concerto, Barber. Let’s do that three days in a row. So it was a really incredible time and each one of those people… Toby died actually one summer when we were all together. And we were in the house when she basically told us that she had stage four pancreatic cancer. And it was so hard. It was especially hard for me. And I’m sure it was hard for everybody else. But we just have shared a lot of life together. I’ve seen all of their children be born and it’s been a very meaningful time.

Peter: So were you the original violist of the Ehnes Quartet? Or did you have a predecessor?

Richard: No, I believe I am the original. Maybe there were some other things when James and Amy were together at Meadowmount when they were 14.

Peter: Oh, that doesn’t count.

Richard: No, so yes, yes. I’ve been the violist of the quartet.

Peter: Let’s go back a little bit further because people are always intrigued by wonderful violist like you, at what point did you start playing the viola? Was that your very first instrument or did you study the violin for a while?

Richard: I started on the violin. I’m from a small little town on the Olympic Peninsula called Sequim, Washington, which is — when I was growing up was population 3,000 and there were 15 churches, all Protestant, one Catholic church. And it was a very small little community. And my grandparents and my mother, I was raised by those three people. And I think my grandparents were very shrewd. They wanted to make sure that I could have a future and we didn’t have means. So they tried all of these things to get me ready for college when I was very young, like three, four or five years old… and violin lessons, Suzuki violin lessons was one of them. And I think I really took to that. And about eight years later, there was a man named Alan Iglitzin, this violist who had a quartet called the Philadelphia String Quartet.

They were all members of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy: Veda Reynolds, Irwin Eisenberg, and Charles Brennand. And at the time they, I think this is probably in the 60s, they quit this secure position and just moved out to Seattle, Washington, which at the time was sort of a pioneer town. That’s what they say, and started this residency at the University of Washington. And then Alan purchased a huge dairy farm, very close to my house where I grew up, and started this very, very nice chamber music festival and institute. And so I was one of his kids at a young age. 

And so I met Alan when I was about 12 and he was the man that basically introduced me to chamber music. And actually I play on his viola to this day. I have been playing on it for about three years and I think that’s where I really… those summers as a child, studying with Alan and discovering what András and Ed and Harumi have been talking about… the profundity, and just the best music ever written… at that age, and with those people, it profoundly influenced me.

Peter: Wonderful, wonderful. Well, it’s fantastic that you’re with the quartet. The quartet sounds wonderful already. And I wanted to talk a little bit with all of you and you can just chime in as you like, because obviously the reason that we do this, that there’ve been so many quartets in the history of music, is the repertoire. We would not make this kind of commitment and live with this kind of interdependence if it wasn’t so worthwhile. And in fact, the music probably feeds into our relationships and our friendships as well. But it is a very interesting sort of experience to be in a string quartet for many, many years, and to be so connected. And it is kind of like a family. And there are very, very few situations that are like this when we think about it. If a sports team, somebody gets injured, they bring in somebody else. You have substitutes all the time.

And in businesses, there’s always a new CEO, new managers, new all kinds of people coming in. It doesn’t really affect the momentum of that particular kind of group. Teachers even can have substitutes, and orchestras… sometimes I’ll walk on stage and somebody else is playing second oboe. I didn’t know, they barely even asked me. But that simply doesn’t happen [in a quartet]. You would never go to a performance at the Takács Quartet and say, well, actually tonight, Harumi is not going to be there. Somebody else is going to be playing. We just don’t do that unless it’s a specific situation, Harumi, like you mentioned a couple of years ago when there was a period of time where you needed to be a replacement for a very, very specific reason. But it’s really unusual.

So let’s talk a little bit about this whole extraordinary thing of being a family. Now, Richard is your newest adopted member, and he has a lot of experience at playing quartets, but I only want to talk about the lovely part of it because I played only for 14 years, which seems like nothing to at least two of you. But those three people, there’s nothing quite like that relationship. They are kind of my other brothers. I have two brothers already, but I have three Japanese brothers whom I adore, even if we didn’t get along all the time. [laughs] But it is a very, very special and wonderful relationship. So anybody want to take this on?

Edward: That’s a huge topic. And I think you’re right, it’s about the repertoire and the shared experiences that they create. And so this afternoon, we also recorded the Hymn of Thanksgiving giving from Beethoven’s String Quartet, Opus 132. It’s a heavenly piece that he wrote as gratitude upon recovering from a life-threatening illness. Although it wasn’t really quite as straightforward as that because he fell ill again quite soon afterwards. And therefore the statement of gratitude is also one of faith. And to me, it was rather wonderful, just the music goes rather slowly. And so you’re concentrating on the playing, but you also have a little more time to actually just listen to the overall effect. And for me, it was a very moving experience, just being part of that sound, of that piece of music that was written 250 years ago.

And also to recognize that he was making a statement of faith about his health, but when you play in a string quartet, you also make a statement of faith in each other. It’s an irrational thing. You don’t rationally sit around and really weigh the pros and cons of joining a string quartet. At least I didn’t, and I think it’s the same for the others. It’s much more of a gut feeling. And I think it is the music primarily that binds us together. And I think that’s quite moving when you think about Beethoven and how he himself found relationships, his friendships, his family relationships, very, very difficult. And he was volatile and very idealistic and people never lived up to his standards really. But he created this music, which allows these amazing bonds between players and our audiences. So certainly this afternoon, I felt very grateful just to be on the stage, playing with these guys.

Peter: Wonderful. And one of the interesting aspects of it too, I think that we don’t have an outside coach. In many other situations, there is somebody who is kind of the boss. In fact, we are each other’s coaches in a way, and we have to be very generous in how we speak to each other. And we have to also be very patient in how we receive suggestions and thoughts because we may well disagree with them. And then there has to be a civil dispute that goes on, obviously. That’s a healthy discussion. And then of course, when we walk on stage, we are absolutely a team. We have to be a team. That’s a really quite interesting dynamic as well. Harumi, how’s that been for you with a full-time quartet over the last couple of years?

Harumi: Yeah. I think that’s interesting what you were saying about it feeling like a team and what you were saying about feeling generous with one another. I think what I feel is that generosity comes from a feeling that it’s not just a string quartet, but it’s almost like an ecosystem. In other words, it’s not so much that I’m being generous because I’m a nice person, it’s more like in order for this to work, we need oxygen, we need soil, we need food, we need a series of interwoven relationships. And that includes the composer. That includes the audience, the donors, the friendships. And with all of that comes a beautiful sense of responsibility. And in many parts of my life, I feel like responsibility can be a burden, but in this particular case, it’s the most beautiful feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life to have this amazing responsibility to not just these other three people, but our whole quartet ecosystem. So I feel like it’s a very beautiful part of my life.

Peter: That’s beautifully put and there is the sense that one is also maintaining at every moment and building on a history, which is very significant at this point. Your quartet is a world treasure to so many people who love listening to you and love the music that we all share. András, I’m kind of fascinated, you’ve been in that chair for a long time. How many colleagues have you had now? It’s probably six, I guess, right?

András: I never counted. That was also a fascinating subject whenever we did or had to change personnel, because most people were shocked that we had to do it. Then my answer usually was, yes, absolutely. We had to do it. It was necessary. But also it’s wonderful that a new set of thoughts and way of thinking and inquisitive mind and just a totally different personality came in which Harumi referred to very poetically as ecosystem. I had [a] much more pedestrian description, but somehow it changes every little detail of every single one of us, because the way I talk to Gábor Takács, it’s certainly not necessarily to talk that way to Ed and vice versa. So you mentioned finding a CEO or a CFO to a company, and I usually thought about those checklists consisting mainly of 15 points, some way of people skills, extreme smartness, but the rest is really just dealing with numbers.

We have the luxury of digging and developing and enjoying these genius monster… No, no, these monster pieces of geniuses who were not only geniuses, but took extra care and tenfold the trouble to write a symphony. I mean, how spoiled can we be then dealing with these pieces and having endless discussions year after year, and not only season by season, but when we revisit these pieces after 10 years or 15 years. What I find so fascinating is that our checklist for a new member or for our own being, is maybe tenfold. Since we are aware of this, we treasure the existing members exactly that, because it’s so rare to find the right dynamic, the right person, the right human reaction.

Edward: I mean, if I can just chip in, at least for me, it’s personally quite taxing to be in a string quartet. I feel like I have to basically be a nicer person than I basically am. I mean, what you mentioned, Peter, how you have to be able to take criticism well. You have to find ways to talk and it’s difficult, because sometimes you’re overtired and sometimes you don’t have enough time to work on a piece of music. So you need to have a lot of trust in each other. I think we all, over time… I should just talk for myself… the others, especially András, poor András, has definitely seen the whole range of me over 27 years. There’s a trust that comes from seeing the weaker side of someone, as well as the stronger side.

Hopefully, if you get through that, it all melds into your music making. I think, again, I felt it with the playing today as well, it’s one of the things that’s very liberating is to feel that you’re part of something. You can be part of something with three other people, that’s just bigger than yourself. You put a lot of yourself into it and you still, in the right circumstances, feel like an individual, but in the end you also get to let go of those types of preoccupations and that’s immensely liberating.

Peter: Yeah. It takes a tremendous amount of confidence in a way to put yourself in that position. But a string quartet is not a good place for a narcissist.

Edward: This is true.

Peter: Well, to me, it seems like the chemistry between the four of you, which is only a few days old, actually, and it’s one of the most fascinating things about a string quartet which people don’t think of, of how many different relationships there are, because there’s the four. There’s the relationship of the four, there’s three relationships of trios. I think there’s six relationships of duos. So that’s a lot of different relationships and that chemistry is unique to each of those groups and very special. I think back and I can still feel exactly what that chemistry was with my three colleagues. I never experienced a member change myself, but then in the end, the only thing that matters to me is when I listen to a recording of something and say, “Ah, we were committed.”

We were trying to help each other make the most beautiful music and the most spiritual experience as well for people who would come to listen to us, because after all, there are not that many opportunities in the world for people to come in and really get into their own world of contemplation, let their imagination go where it will go, while they’re listening to this extraordinary music that we play, whether it was written yesterday or one of the early Haydn quartets. We’re just so privileged to have this incredible repertoire.

I want to ask you just about one thing, because we’re in Boulder, it’s a very special place. I’ve only known Boulder really for two or three years, myself. I absolutely love the city and I love the atmosphere there. I have only met the most extraordinary, wonderful people there. Do you think that living in Boulder has been somewhat of an advantage to the quartet over the years? Because it feels to me, that if I could choose where to live, if I was going to play in a string quartet, again, it might well be Boulder.

Edward: I’ll let the others speak, but I think it’s been completely crucial for us. And particularly just the sense of community and building friendships here over the years, the life of a traveling quartet under normal circumstances is pretty crazy, running around all over the place and it can be quite disorienting. It’s been both grounding and rejuvenating to be in such a supportive, beautiful community.

András: We arrived here 35 years ago and our core audience up until this day, mainly consists of people who we befriended already that time. When we look at the number of people living here, which is roughly 100,000 and compare it to New York City, the audience who are coming to our concerts would be the equivalent of filling a stadium of 130,000 people in New York City for chamber music. I mean, that would be unheard of. So it’s all the more reason to feel spoiled and thankful and grateful. I’m just extremely happy here.

Peter: Wonderful. Richard, I know you’re brand new to the city. I know your three colleagues welcome you with open arms. The same goes for myself and everyone at the Colorado Music Festival. I’m sure everyone that you’re going to meet, and I really hope you will love being in Boulder and just 50 minutes from Denver Airport. That’s what people don’t realize. It’s so easy to get to. So welcome. I want to thank all four of you for everything you’ve done to spend this time with us, to have played on our opening concert in this very special year, it’s been really inspiring. I’m so deeply grateful to you.

I want to just mention again, I’d mentioned it earlier that you’ve done a performance, given us a performance of the Heiliger Dankgesang [Holy Song of Thanksgiving], perhaps the greatest movement that Beethoven ever wrote. I can tell you that my mother who knew nothing about classical music once came to Israel when we played an entire Beethoven cycle, and when I asked her at the end of it, what was her favorite movement, she said, “Hands down the Heiliger Dankgesang!” It is very wonderful that you have played that for us and it is available to be heard online. And I strongly recommend that you give it the 18 or 20 minutes or whatever it takes to witness that piece, because there’s really nothing quite like it. So I wish you all the best. I send you virtual hugs. Thank you for everything. I look forward very much to seeing you and hearing you in person soon. 

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