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Ornaments in Life by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

That little extra unexpected thing that makes life shine even brighter. Like the person you meet, somewhere you didn't count on it. Or like suddenly realizing that it's the climate hero Greta Thunberg walking back and forth with her father in the train car on my way through the summer landscape.

Ornaments, or embellishments. As always, music helps me understand the rest of life. Surprising me, in the most wonderful manner, with small but important changes. That small sudden idea taking you from one bar to the next, the unexpected turn or trill around a note, contributing to the spontaneity and the excitement.

Which are your small gems around the notes? How do you keep the eternal changes of life flowing?

Or my favourite sequence of the (CPE) Bach flute sonata in g minor. Falling leaves. And nothing makes me feel more summery-like than this upwards falling sequence.

Sunny greetings,

Your Mikael

New Schwerpunkt CD by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

A Berio fanfare covered in a cloud of lightness. A most refreshingly new piece by Vassos Nicolaou, nowhere near what you would expect from a brass quintet. Sounds from down below, from far away. Or screamingly close, everywhere around you, in 4K HD. Heavy points made perfectly clear, air sounds and velvet lazer chords, never-ending arpeggi chains and after all that: relaxing harmonic cushions. As well as world premiere recordings of Sofia Gubaidulina's Quattro and Benedict Mason's Brass Quintet.

Take a listen yourself.

The new CD by my Ensemble Schwerpunkt, released on the 17th of May 2019 on the Label NEOS.

Buy it here:
NEOS Music

or here

jpc Schallplatten Versandhandelsgesellschaft

Teaching Highlights 2019 by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

Happy New Year!

2019 lies before us like a fresh, white, open and new exciting field of possibilities and for me, one focus for this coming year will be on teaching. Except from continuing teaching my expanding trombone studio at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna (application deadline 15th of February!) there will be a couple of different opportunities all over Europe to look forward to – and for you students to apply to!

Apply now and get ready to refresh your approach to playing the trombone!

All the best to all of you,
Mikael

Traces Seen Through Azzurro-blue Water by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

I swim a lot. It's like meditaion. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath, Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Rhythm and symmetry. Like music.

A swimming pool tells us a lot about a country. Take the French charming ones with the small private boxes for changing, or the perfectly organized but sometimes boring German ones with mixed nude sauna for men and women, or the Swedish one in the suburb where I grew up, with the water slide and the 25 meter pool where I played and swam as a child, claiming the "Simborgarmärket", a reward for being able to swim 200 metres.

I like the Italian piscine, where it's mandatory for everyone to wear a cuffia, a bathing cap, in order to keep clean (because the Italians are, in a strange way, the uncrowned cleanliness specialists of Europe). Or - recently discovered - the modern architechtural landmarks of rich cities in countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg.

By the way: the price for an indoor swim also tells us something about the politics of a country - not necessarily connected to the general price level of the country, but rather a representative of the philosophy behind the structure of a society, or the political agenda of a city - privatized and expensive in some places, or solidarily subsidized in others. Does your country care about its citizens and their well-being?

There are, of course, contrasts in all aspects of life, not only in the interesting field of swimming pools. And when you've experienced one thing which is new for you and changes your horizon for good, the old experineces will never be the same again, the new ones adding to the variety of experience. I thought this thought when I went through the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last week - after seeing the Rembrandts, no other portrait remains the same. There were, of course, excellent contemporaries of his. But no-one like Rembrandt: don't ask me how, but he manages to make his protagonists incredibly real, their personalities glowing through their faces. How can someone paint with oil on a plain piece of canvas, and achieve something like this? Giving us, the audience, the inceredible feeling that we already know the people on the pictures, that we feel the depth in their personalities through barely watching them? What a power art has! And how revealing it is. The clear wrinkles of age. The history of another human being, written on his or her face. Traces left, like waves of sand on a seabed, clearly visible through the azzurro-blue water.

Grandeur by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

I traveled to France to feel the sweet breath of true greatness again. In the least humble city of all, in the shadow of the Sorbonne, the swell autumn air let my thoughts fly like swirling winds, high up in the air, my body sitting firmly on chairs or half-lying on sofas in cafés, finally relaxing and joyfully observing the self-confident manners of the Parisien.

This helped me realize one thing:

We should all allow a bit more Grandeur in our lives.

Politicians would then make their visions come true instead of permanently managing so called "crises". Composers would then get out of their comfort zone and dare to make something that tries to grasp the world, to create a universe of emotions, like Mahler, Stockhausen or Bach once did. And - most important of all - the common man or woman, people like you and I, would make it part of our agenda to grow in all directions: inwards, outwards, to expand as beings, in the true sense of the word.

So far so good. Time for a new Jugendstil maybe? An inspiringly new belle-epoque, an era where all the levels of style exist and grow parallel to each other and everything is allowed, but with us humans truthfully involved - instead of volunteering as digital cripples in the claws of Google and c/o, we'll build something new, something fresh, something smelling of autumn leaves and grand, new, sparkling ideas. Together.

Haydn by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

Airport. Everyday life, normal people running about, searching for their gates. Lost smiles.

I turn on Haydn. The world as I know it disappears, every step feathers lightly on the concrete floor, I suddenly feel very human and appreciate the beauty of my fellow humans, my collegues in travel.

A mystic bassline, a line of chords, a knocking rhythm. Or is it more than that? I think so.

Time by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

When I was younger, time seemed to be an unimportant factor in almost all aspects of life. I did things, took the time that was needed for them and looked what happened. If a new area of interest opened up, I followed my urge to explore more about it without thinking twice about how to arrange my life around it. If a problem occured, I always found the required amount of time to solve it.

But times changed, and the world as well. Everything got digitalized, fast, sometimes, I believe, even faster than the inner timing of us humans. More and more often I had the feeling that if I don't actively choose to do something to slow down the flow of this new reality, I would be automatically drawn with it, like a river bringing me along without asking.

In music, time is omnipresent. In the smallest musical universe (micro-timing) and in the long run, in the 10.000 hours it takes to learn a musical instrument, in the never-ending development of music itself. The most impressive moments I have experienced in music are the ones where time ceases to exist. Haven't you felt that as well? I have a favourite saying:

"Music doesn't take time, it takes place in time."

This is true. And, furthermore, it can help us in all other aspects of life. Listen to how Yo-Yo Ma flies timelessly between the phrases in the Bach Cello Suites. Experience how impossible it is to say, after Arvo Pärt's Fratres, if 3, 10 or 30 minutes have passed since the piece began. And listen to the best, bravest and most important solists of all time - how they wait, how they dare to be that risky tiny noch behind the orchestra, to how Glenn Gould slows down the Brahms first Piano Concerto. Steals the time...from whom? The universe? The composer himself?

My theory is that, if done correctly, we can steal the time back from The Man Who Collects Time, that bad grey-shaped evil wizard shamelessly collecting it while smoking his cigar. And the place where we can learn this is in the small phrase, the micro-cosmos, in the eight-note pause between phrases, the C Major chord unexpectively resolving not to a f minor, but to a D flat Major. That's where the secret lies. The small hole in the matrix, in the big picture we call our reality. Music.

Listen to the Legato by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

Answering the question, which trombone players I'd recommend to listen to, I discovered just how important sound and legato are to me. And how independent of genre.

After hesitating for a few moments, I mentioned three good examples, all of them jazz/commercial players:

  • Urbie Green
  • Dick Nash
  • Bill Watrous

In the case of Dick Nash, it's often not even possible to find out on which studio recordings he plays on. But - oh, what a style!

Keep swinging!


Mikael

Visiting Earth by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

There are a couple of things I would have a difficulty to understand, if I came visiting earth as an alien: how humans sometimes choose to live in groups under such incompetent leaders, how most of us spend most of our lives working with things we don't like and the rest of our time in weird trains on our way back and forth to this work, swiping our smartphones. And...why we take utmost care in practical details and everyday perfection, choosing the right soy milk, but not always the same care in the emotional details of life.

But, as always, there are also things on earth that would impress me immensly - the fruit for instance. So simple and so delicious. Or the amazing beauty of our nature, the frozen lakes of the North, the red soil of Africa.

In spite of all these astonishing and beautiful things, though: I wouldn't understand what the whole fuzz is all about before I heard music. Imagine (still being an alien, of course) coming to a concert hall with an empty stage, asking yourself what people are doing there in their evening dresses. And then, the musicians come on stage and it sounds, finds its way through flesh and bones, to the very core of us, the place nobody has managed to describe. Makes us complete in a way that no other form of art I know can.

All of our highways, our drainpipes and toilets, infrastructure nets and breakfast buffets, tax departments and smartphones, banks and cars, everything to no point without culture - our content in life. For me: the reason for keeping up the functioning world, the one thing that defines us as humans. Out in space. And here back home.

Happy New Year!

Yours,

Mikael

IMAGINATION // On braking the wall and turning 30 by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

IMAGINATION
On Breaking the Wall and Turning 30

France inspired me. Again. Last week, I had the great pleasure of celebrating turning 30 (so, mathematically speaking, my 31th birthday) in Dijon with all my new Klangforum collegues, many singers from the Pinocchio-production and other friends. A wonderful evening with wine (for the others), food, music, conversations and joie-de-vivre. An evening symbolizing where I stand now, what life has brought and taught me in its first 30 years, 10958 days or however you'd like to count it.

And, since this is a historical change of numbers, I've been thinking. It actually feels a bit like a very refreshing New Year's Eve, or rather the day after, and I discover this as a chance, a possibility to re-think, find new goals and paths and to keep on imagining things and staying creative. And as a sudden surprise, this quotation came to me:

"Rien ne vaut la peine d'être vécu, qui n'est d'abord une œuvre d'imagination ou alors la mer ne serait plus que de l'eau salée"
- Romain Gary

The most beautiful picture: if we wouldn't have our imagination, the sea would be nothing more than salty water. Gary - a dreamer, a literaric hero and a man not willing to compromise with anything. Especially not with dreaming and fantasizing. And so, the sea remains something magical.

If life would be in sonata form, this birthday was probably the end of the Exposition and the beginning of the Durchfürung. Or to put it in John Coltrane's words: the end of the Acknowledgment and the beginning of the Resolution. I'm really looking forward to it.

All the best from Berlin,
Your Mikael

From Aix with Love // or // Why Does It Always Hurt To Cross The Border? by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

In Strasbourg, the Rhine divides two very different countries from each other with a thin blue line. We live in a seemingly barrier-free Europe (still) but to me there is and has always been something almost mythical about continental Europe and her rivers, about their traditional and symbolic meaning as borders between people and cultures.

I’m thinking and writing again and you’ve probably already guessed it - I’m on the train, leaving France after yet another wonderful project abroad with Klangforum Wien. A normal tour for me usually lasts just a couple of days or a week, but this time I’m returning home after more than three weeks with Klangforum playing Philippe Boesmans’ Pinocchio at the Aix-en-Provence festival, the second biggest opera festival in the world.

We had a fantastic time. And as the TGV rushes through the Provence and proceeds through the central parts of France I keep thinking that I don’t want the landscape to change this fast, that I want to stay in this dream for a little while longer, in the same way I sometimes want to stay in bed the morning after a concert, watching the flowers and remembering that it all maybe wasn’t a dream after all.

I don’t need to bring flowers home this time, but I want to stay in the memory transforming into a dream for longer, stretching the time. This is a dream of fountains, of joie-de-vivre, of wonderful people, great food and, reflecting over my last three weeks, it seems to me like the perfect combination of work and pleasure. Aix-en-Provence is such a beauty and I already now miss walking around in this city: too perfect to be true but genuine enough to believe in.

------

The French expression for a musical world première is ”création mondiale” - two words forming an expression that is as posh as it is tasty. The ”création mondiale” of Philppe Boesmans’ Pinocchio turned out to be a sincere pleasure (admitted: a very tonal pleasure) with a fabulous cast of singers. Klangforum Wien in the pit also got some well deserved attention, Financial Times wrote after the premiere:

At the top of the list is the presence of Klangforum Wien in the pit and Emilio Pomarico on the podium. These are people who can turn any score into a masterpiece; the musicality, the polish, the warmth and skill are breathtaking.”

So, after all, reading newspaper articles afterwards, remembering the scents, flavours and pictures of Aix and all the adventures and night-long conversations with my new and old friends playing, visiting, sharing these experiences with me makes it bearable and possible to think back with a big smile on my face.

Life goes on and this coming week, Salzburg is waiting. From Saturday we start rehearsing for a very different kind of festival, in a very different country, much closer to home. Still at the border, still by a river. Let the music flow!

All the best and musical greetings,

Your Mikael

Good News by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

Yesterday I received the fantastic piece of news that I have been appointed trombonist of the wonderful Klangforum Wien. This means that a new era in my life as a musician is about to begin - and the timing for this couldn't have been better! I feel ready and I am so much looking forward to this big new adventure, to working and playing with my new collegues and to discovering new music.

See you in Vienna!

Cheers to life and to this new opportunity

Your Mikael

Living on the Road by Mikael Rudolfsson - Trombone

Travel

Four Hotels I Really Really Like

Traveling can be both wonderful and taxing. And, since the world tends to get more and more standardized with every second hotel belonging to a big chain it has become more and more important to me finding my personal oasis when away from home. Here I have picked out four hotels I really really like – they all have in common that they add a very personal touch to your stay, offer that sincere friendly smile at the reception or that locally inspired home-made personal breakfast and – most important of all: give you the opportunity to meet nice and open-minded fellow travellers.

These hotels belong to the category ”luxurious but affordable” and fit equally well for the business trip as for the relaxation weekend. The Scandinavian two are beautifully situated right by the sea. The two German city hotels are both located in the bulls-eye of their respective city.

 

1. BERLIN:

Hotel Savoy Berlin, Germany

Fasanenstraße 9-10, 10623 Berlin, Germany

http://www.hotel-savoy.com/

Since my first stay here I’m deeply in love with its red furniture, the old patinated flair of the rooms and the joie-de-vivre atmosphere in the lobby. Perfectly situated by Bahnhof Zoo with Tiergarten closeby for the morning jog.

 

2. FRANKFURT:

Hotel Nizza Frankfurt, Germany

Elbestraße 10, 60329 Frankfurt, Germany

http://www.hotelnizza.de/

Right in the middle of the swirling Bahnhofsviertel, but so genuine and reliable. The breakfast ist exquisitely hand-made and just delicious. The rooms have a tall ceiling and let you travel in time, at least 40-50 years. Recommendation!

 

3. DENMARK:

Hotel Vejlefjord, Jylland, Denmark

Sanatorievej 26, 7140 Stouby, Denmark

http://en.hotelvejlefjord.dk/

Absolutely stunnigly situated at the Vejle bay, far away from everyday life this old sanatory building was refurbished with big love to detail and is now a wonderful hotel/spa. My suggestion: take a walk down to beach, walk to the left through the forest, take a swim at the hidden part of the bay and feel like Robinson Crusoe.

 

4. SWEDEN:

Hotell Mossbylund, Skåne, Sweden

27453 Mossby, Sweden

http://www.mossbylund.se/

At the very southern cape of Sweden, closeby Ystad in the Skåne region, the flat croplands and fields meet the stormy Östersjön. If I would go somewhere just to read, relax and think, this would be the place. Trelleborg, just 35km away is directly reachable with the ferry from Sassnitz, which brings this spa oasis very close to continental Europe. And...what a breakfast!

 

On length/brevity by Paige Brunton

So, Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize. Probably not a bad decision, considering that music and poetry have belonged together for thousands and thousands of years. The question if pop culture needs prestigious literary prizes like this one is another one, which I don't intend to answer here.

But what really struck me during the last week (I spent it in Sweden) is the general tendency in favor of art forms that are short and easily chewable (or at least, not too al dente). I see it in the concert programs of orchestras ("come and listen - short concert with no intermission - no difficult or demanding music - we promise!"), I see it in the hollow and dull short messages people send each other with their smart phones, I see it in literature, in the way we go to museums, in the way we surf the internet.

I believe in lengthy art. I need the Wagner operas and the Tolstoy novels just in the same way that I need cathedrals and Roman or Greek ruins. For me they symbolize continuity, effort and stamina, make a manifestation of what we humans are and can achieve. I think that we, people working with art, should be cautious of not stripping it down too much, taking away a branch here and there, leaving a clean and sleek forest with lots of room but little content.

I would be curious to see if there is a way of reaching out to more concert-goers in actually fully believing in our legacy of the lengthy and demanding, in presenting full pieces. The Bruckneresque state of meditation, the endless flow of a Bach oratorio. I think it's a matter of showing that we can, that we want to and will present our art this way. Because we're completely convinced that it stands the test, and will stay effective until the end barline.

Who knows if this theory is valid or true in the case of Dylan, it will be interesting to hear what he says in his Nobel speech. As always, we'll stay awake and see where the journey takes us. The answers are blowin' in the wind. 

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