Lessons from an inspirational musician

Studying with Dora Schwarzberg in mdw’s Enrichment Programme for the Exceptionally Gifted

I have studied with Professor Dora Schwarzberg since 2011, as a student of the Enrichment Programme for the Exceptionally Gifted of the mdw: Initially, I was not sure of how long I would be staying in Vienna, but now I am already in my fifth year of living in this city!

Coming from a non-musical family

Surprisingly, I don’t come from a musical family:
My mother used to be a preschool teacher, and my father is a pilot. As a child, I had heard a concert of Sarah Chang, who was then in tour in Vancouver, I was really astounded to hear an instrument that was so different, yet capable of such an intimate and individual sound. This led to some Suzuki lessons on the violin, as my mother thought that playing the violin would be just a temporary whim that would pass, and I did not receive formal instruction on the instrument until I was seven.

Dora Schwarzberg
Belle with Dora Schwarzberg

I first met Prof. Schwarzberg after deciding to audition for different professors in Vienna: This was a great idea to me at the time, as I had previously been to some European cities, during the holidays, and Vienna really stood out for me with the multitude of concerts, cultural events, museum exhibitions, as well as cafés.

An extraordinary pedagogue

It was not so easy to find a professor that understood me however, as I was probably not the model young student that teachers look for, but from the first lesson, it was clear that Prof. Schwarzberg was an extraordinary pedagogue, both patient yet strict with my mistakes, never uttering a single put-down phrase in her critiques.

She is an extremely ‘no-nonsense’ teacher, never making any compromises for the art that one creates and always going straight to the point, but what truly makes her different is her understanding and care for each of her students, just like members of a family. Often, she invites students to her flat to talk about future plans over a cup of tea: During these discussions, it is not uncommon to hear a few humorous anecdotes from her times as a student herself, under the great Professor Yankelevitch.

Dora Schwarzberg
Belle with Dora Schwarzberg

Moving to Vienna

Subsequently, my mother and I moved to Vienna to study with her, passing the entrance exams for the mdw the next year in 2011, and since then, I routinely have lessons with her. Often, these lessons can last far beyond an hour, and some can even be at quite unexpected times: I remember how once Prof. Schwarzberg suddenly asked me to play the Glazunov concerto once through for her at 9pm in the evening, after I had been listening to some other students at a master class!

Until now, I still sometimes feel my hair standing on end (through inspiration, of course) whenever Prof. Schwarzberg plays, whether in a concert or just demonstrating in class. Her distinctive artistic character and personal sound, effected towards her personal credo, “The violin must speak and cry!” are strong influence on my artistic development to this day, and I really feel thankful to be under the mentorship of such a legendary artist.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from an inspirational musician”

    1. Wientranser is very convenient to book with. Personally I mainly use the Schnellbahn S7, but it only goes about every 20 minutes.

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