One moment please, Mrs.Idil You can start now Hello idil Biret Hello Naxos is currently distributing the “Idil Biret Archives” Since 1949, which I believe was when you made your first recording, you made more than 80 albums You have a gluttonous appetite for making recordings Your approach to recording is really impressive You have recorded all the piano works of Brahms, Rachmaninov, Chopin, etc I think you just finished Beethoven’s sonatas lt’s really impressive Where does this constant desire to record come from? It is really difficult to make a portrait of Idil Biret because she is very open and extroverted but at the same time very modest She rarely talks about personal matters Although we are very close she still remains a mystery There are cats everywhere, right? Fortunately, I don’t live in a farm Then I would have 30-40 cats in and out of the house, and that would drive everyone crazy I have a few that are not alive Some are not bad at all There is a picture over there with a cat That cat was mine lt was a different cat, with a distinctive personality Like all of them For me, Idil is someone beyond nationalities She’s international She plays everywhere

She’s beyond borders l’m always passionate about everything she does lt’s always profoundly original yet at the same time, profoundly worked out and mastered Today when you go into a studio when you record is it always the same feeling or do you have any feelings you didn’t have before? How did that evolve? lt’s really interesting When I concentrate, the places do not interest me I don’t really see what’s around me I only see the music ln fact, I work less and less from the keyboard I “read” the compositions lt’s crucial to imagine the music I mean “the inner hearing” You’ll immediately recognize this pianist Who achieved international fame as kid in Western classical music Yes, ldil Biret The music revolution in Turkey probably wouldn’t happen if not for Ataturk He saw the need for a music revolution in Turkey only a year after the republic’s foundation And after his death, President Inonu took over Every Saturday the Presidential Symphony Orchestra would give a concert at the Conservatory And Inonu always attended those concerts Therefore, the ministers and deputies felt obliged to attend Including high-level bureaucrats Most of them were probably not that keen on attending classical music concerts They must have been grumbling about it One night, in a concert like this Mithat Fenmen brought a little girl to my father He told him My general, this kid is really talented I would like you to listen to her, I am certain you will like it So my father replied “Let’s listen to her.” idil came out She was very little with curly hair She was alert and confident Even in front of my father, the president She sat on his lap, my father caressed her The rest of the people were more nervious, trying to figure out how to sit her The stool was too high, her feet couldn’t touch the ground Finally they raised it so she could sit All of a sudden, that little girl who seemed so unfocused started playing the piano And everybody was stunned She must have been about 5 She had tiny hands. Her feet did not reach the pedals She sat and played something for me I was amazed When her hands didn’t reach the keys she’d play with her elbows She had a terrific musical memory She could remember any music to the smallest detail I was actually scared of that little kid You just don’t expect such talent from such a small person When I was a child

there was the “Children’s Club’ at the Ankara Radio She was 5 when she came there and played her own compositions I think one them was called ‘The March of the Elephants’ l’ve always loved music But as a little kid I was afraid of it Why would a kid be afraid of music? I know this from my mothers memoirs I was playing around with the piano improvising I also played the works I had heard It was fun. Like a game My mother used to say that it was normal ‘Every kid has a talent in something You need to work hard to succeed.” I would hear this all the time So I never took myself seriously Of course, I used to do naughty things For instance I would lock people in a room, then throw the key out the window and watch them from a distance So my mother invented an imaginary girl called ‘lnci’ And she would tell me about her all the time: lnci always helps her mother, lnci always behaves properly lnci never stains her clothes Which I did all the time I used to reply: But can lnci play the piano?’ Turkey didn’t have many qualified people to educate such talented kids Above all, idil needed more than a piano teacher She needed a pedagogue The idea was to send her abroad and put her in safe hands My father and some of his friends agreed on that The issue was discussed in the parliament Some were reluctant at first: “She’s just a kid, you can’t predict what she’ll become.” ‘What if she gets married and stays there? What if she looses her interest?” “ls it right to put so much faith in a child just because she is talented?” Thank God, common sense prevailed They agreed that she should get special attention, that she needs to have a good education Even if she doesn’t come back, she would still represent Turkey Kazim Taskent used to publish a magazine called “Brother Dogan” “Sister ldil”‘ and “Sister Suna'” were featured in almost every issue It was great motivation for us to read how gifted and successful these kids were ‘A Poem for Sister ldil’ We would read about their success abroad They would also introduce other talented kids, which was very important in my opinion Many children of my generation started learning the piano or the violin thanks to ldil and Suna I wasn”t aware of anything I would hear about this “law Then they said: “You’re going to Paris I didn’t really know what was going on One day, I got a letter from Ankara It was about 1948-49 It read: “”ldil and her parents will be at the Gare de Lyon on such and such day Go meet them there

I lived in this house between the ages 8-24 I couldn”t get used to it Especially the dark trees Then spring came and I loved it Worst of all, there was no snow I loved the snow and playing snowball Friends? I mean there were some kids but I wasn’t really interested in making friends I used to make games up in my head I liked to ride the subway I really liked travelling through the underground tunnels It was dark and mysterious idil, can you say a few words to your fellow citizens? And also to your grandmother Would you like to say it in French or in Turkish? What would you like to say to your Grandma right now? If she were here at this very moment, would you have liked to say something? What would you say? Pretend she’s here since she’s listening to you You can say whatever you like How are you Grandma? l”m very well, how are you doing? l’ve been studying here for 10 months now The weather is very nice l’ve heard that it’s snowing in Istanbul In a few months, it will snow here as well I wrote a letter to Ankara saying “”Look, the kid is here but people are trying to make her do circus acts She needs a proper education They said: “Who do you suggest? The greatest pedagogue I knew was Nadia Boulanger But Boulanger replied “”l don’t teach kids.”” So I asked: “Could you atleast listen to her once? Listen once, maybe you”ll change your mind.” She said “Fine, just for you idil played her piano and her organ Boulanger witnessed her talents And most importantly, idil played with Boulangers cat, Tasha Nadia Boulanger said, “l’ll take the education of this girl upon myself.”” Including all the expenses Are you happy to be in Paris? Yes, very happy You work with great musicians don’t you? I guess you work with Mrs. Nadia Boulanger? Yes, with Ms. Nadia Boulanger – That’s right I also work with Ms. Bonneville, Ms. Nicolas and Ms. Dieudonne And do you intend to make progress and give a lot of concerts? Hopefully When you receive a new pupil the most important thing is to understand her natural gifts and her instinctive talents If you are going to take her to a direction different than her parents, You must make sure her talent needs to be developed It would be foolish to try to give talent to everybody You need to dare to choose A picture from 1955. I am onthe piano idil is right behind me You can see that others are older Nadia Boulanger would get irritated quite easily when the student had difficulties on the piano Nadia Boulanger was a realy tough educator Not the kind to beat the kids up but she had principles With her, you either become an artist or you don’t miraculous talents

regular sunieillance First thing she said was: “This kid won’t take the subway she will take the bus or the taxi Because the air in the subway is not good for her.” Nadia Boulanger gave me a program as soon as I arrived Scarlatti sonatas, Bach’s preludes & fugues But I wanted to play Beethoven’s sonatas, Brahm’s works “You’re too young for it, you can’t do it” she said, which I wasn’t very happy with She was involved in every aspect of my life For instance, my bedtime I had permission until 9 o’clock, but she insisted that I sleep at 8 And we had to write down my bedtime every day That was a bit too much for me My first year was really good I was a good girl But I became a bit rebellious in my second year I started not listening to what I was told. I guess I was bored At that age, kids want to play I missed my games in Ankara which I didn’t have in Paris I was really bored I wanted to run away It was turning into an authoritarian regime In my second year, they were surprised I had changed so much But that was normal Boulanger was like a grandma to me and Kempff was like a father Ayla Erduran’s mother knew Kempff and took me to the hotel he was staying I played for him After that, he listened to me playing every time he came to Paris He wanted to see my progress When I was ten, I played him a Beethoven sonata He really liked it and said “it’s time to give a concert.” Of course, we couldn’t understand what he really meant We are happy to present you today the great Turkish pianist 11 years of age, idil Biret She had great success last February 8th during her first concert in Paris with one of the greatest pianists of our time, Wilhelm Kempff Note that she won the first place medal last year in Ms. Dieudonne’s solfege class at the Conseniatory This wasn’t ordinary This was the only time ever that our father gave a concert with a child prodigy Before the concert, I went by her side to show her support She was playing with another kid Kempff got angry when he saw me playing with the kids Enough, you’re going on stage, get yourself together!” he said There’s a cadenza at the end of the 3rd movement At the second repeat, they didn’t play it as rehearsed They improvised a new cadenza The audience went crazy, they could not keep calm I did not understand why they made such a fuss over it I still don’t My mother used to tell me all the time Don’t see yourself as important’ I had no intention to do that anyway The reaction of the audience has never been so warm in Paris, neither the critics’ praise so acclamatory To play with one of the greatest soloists in the world at such a young age What could be more extraordinary? Boulangerwasn’t happy about all this She got into an argument with my father But he insisted that we could not refuse the offer And the concert happened I used to come here for class twice a week Private lessons, dictations, analyses Did you have any free time? Only at night When I was sleeping idil has such an independent personality

that it’s not surprising at all she had difficulties at the conservatory My time at the conservatory was my least favorite Every week they gave us homework which was meant to be completed in three weeks I was smart I would learn everything by heart in just one week It made them angry: “You can’t learn all these in just a week.”” “Am I making any mistakes?”” I asked “No, but still…” I was rebelling against all that I was not a cute, well-behaved girl I saved money, about 50 francs I wanted to leave everything and go to Siberia or Tibet Of course, I didn’t have any money So, I thought about travelling under the train I had those kinds of fantasies since I was 10 Especially during the conseniatory years We were in Jean Doyen’s piano class We were both younger than others but idil was the youngest Jean Doyen didn’t like this because he didn’t like anything that was out of the ordinary And idil was clearly extraordinary I remember, she must have been 14 when she came to the class with Brahms’ 1st Concerto A 14-year-old! She was really small That was terrifying for Jean Doyen I was truly a wild horse at the time Hans von Benda said to my father when we played in Berlin: “This wild horse needs to be restrained After I finished the conservatory, within 3 years, I learned all the repertory I couldn”t study before At home, there was one grand piano and one upright piano I filled the upright one with newspapers not to disturb the neighbors It was almost mute It was like playing in a silent piano Every week, I learned to play 2 grand works and 1 concerto. By heart I think I was working 10 hours a day Nadia Boulanger once suggested: “”You’ll be great, but never as good as a man.” But in terms of stamina, she became more manly than all other men

The last time I saw her, she told me she was lifting weights I asked why. “To make my muscles stronger” she replied “I’m not a romantic” Do you think you’ve evolved on stage? When you find yourself with an audience or in a studio do you think these two require two different approaches? No, but they require different kinds of concentration You have to surpass yourself on stage, to forget everything you’ve done before, including all the meticulous preparation And if you can, to accept to be secondary Without ever losing control He lived in the world of sound completely immersed He cut himself off from everything else He could transcend the material world into the world of sound Really interesting Today, you see those people rocking their heads, looking up, etc I find them a bit superficial This is genuine He’s listening. When there’s a change in harmony Look. lt”s wonderful It seems to me that this last piece, “The Poet Speaks”, the title that Schumann gave to this immortal work, needs to be played in an intimate, dream-like state Don’t you think? Not just the beautiful sound and the expressive easing of the phrase but rather like a dreamer The truth is, you need to dream this last piece, not play Would you permit me to take the seat? Nadia Boulanger admired Cortot deeply And she said to me “AIfred Cortot accepted to teach you.”” I worked with him for 2 years We used to work seriously without wasting time, without talking too much And here, not to link the two phrases They are two different elements of the same musical condition And here, just like a question mark And once again, tenderly questioning the future At the Paris Lyrical Gaiety Theatre, Henri Spade and Robert Chazal present to the spectators and the audience of the French Radio and Television, “The Joy of Living” Today, with Arthur Rubinstein and Idil Biret! I imagine you listen to many young pianists? From all over the world! But there is one with a lot of talent lt’s so exciting They introduced me to a young Turkish pianist I was stunned when I listened to her I had tears in my eyes I predict a great future for her This young girl is called Idil Biret She’s a pupil of Jean Doyen She is going to play for you tonight She’s a bit emotional -I hope so -She’s 13!

I saw this young girl come to my office with her parents I told them we could make records What I found extraordinary was that her parents were very attentive to what was going on, but she was the one who decided on everything She had such will and authority When her father said something she could go “No, I don’t agree” And she really had the last word For her parents, it was important to have such a musically talented child After all they abandoned their personal lives for her sake So she had to succeed It was hard for her She hid certain things Idil is a very composed person When we talk about a private matter, she always advises me to pay no attention to others and to do as I feel Idil loves cats Her character is also cat-like Free spirited, reverent, independent And mysterious She has a distance… from everything Maybe even from herself I take my own world with me everywhere I go On the street, among thousands of people you’re still in your own world You can surround yourself with an invisible shield I imagine a house on an island, with a big room A large space, few objects, only books. A place like that I associate Paris with large apartments, “instructors” homes, the conseniatory dark houses I told myself that ‘”if I have a house one day, it’s going to be like a dollhouse Maybe you’re curious about our relationship Idil is used to her independence She lives her own life We are like two friends sharing a life together Nobody asks anything from one another Everybody needs their own space Even when you’re together all the time you still need a space to be alone Non-stop contact is wrong For me at least I know I live with a genius l”m trying to adapt and do my best What we have here is a phenomenon All of Brahms, all of Lizst, all of Beethoven, all of Chopin Think about it: millions of notes thousands of sheets of music, and she’s ready to play all this from memory at the flick of a switch lt’s hard to explain, maybe we should leave the answer to neurologists When I was the music director at the radio,

we had a session with Idil in a small room of 150 people At one point, I told the audience that what made Idil extraordinary was the immensity of her repertory On the tips of her fingers she had so many sonatas, concertos I said “”Why don’t we try? Could anybody ask her to play someting?”” Idil didn’t know I was going to do that Then someone raised her hand and named a work I don’t remember what it was but it was a difficult one Idil said “of course”” and started playing right away It was really impressive She once said something really strange to me I said: “Your whole world has been music since you were a child.”” Not at all,”” she said It was actually my parents who wanted me to pursue music because I was talented But I personally wanted to do something else in life I wanted to become a doctor I don’t think it’s the scientific aspect of medicine that intrigues her Her interest arises from her profound openness to other people Finally she said something funny: “I couldn’t choose to be a doctor as I was too good at the piano.” Every concert is a ritual You may be receiving something from the audience, but you’re the giver The contact happens through your effort That’s why you need to surpass yourself on stage You need to go beyond the physical world Like shamans do Rhythm, music, dance lt all comes together and heals people That’s what l’m seeking She’s a very cultured person She’s interested in so many aspects of art: painting, literature This gives a unique density to her performances What suits her best is all music that presents a challenge A technical or an interpretative challenge That’s why it’s superb that she’s recording Beethoven Challenge is the essence of Beethoven’s music Here comes the marathon runner

Come darling. Are you tired? Sorry? Are you tired? What did you say? – Was it tiring? What do I know? ln 1985, she had 3 months to record 6 Beethoven symphonies It was then that I witnessed her discipline She didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks worked up to 14 hours every day I had to leave work and go home to give her supper, otherwise she wouldn’t remember to eat She recorded 4 Beethoven symphonies in 4 nights, working in 8 hourshifts We would come home around 4am she would sleep for 3-4 hours, wake up at 8 and work till 6pm She would go back to recording at 8pm I think one of the most important things in this profession is to be determined If you do something you believe in and you love it, then you must endure Here we are Hello 160 acres of land for free, for everybody. Sounds great! I never make physical contact with her when she’s working I leave a note She’d see it, then ask “What is it? and l”d say “This or that”” That’s how we communicate because her mind is always busy Let’s go – Come – Thanks -Wait a second. The keys – Where is the shoe? In here. Hold on, could you hold this for a second? Careful, it shouldn”t touch the floor Then what? Just a second, l’m checking the keys

Otherwise, we’Il be locked out Careful with the robe -Got it Let me Honey, it’s not holding it – It will Let me check everything again She doesn”t like the music industry and the people in it She’s known it well since her childhood lt’s not as innocent as you would imagine from the outside She puts a distance between them and herself You need to be a little distant from everything, including yourself Balance Balance is crucial You can retain that balance only by isolating yourself That’s how it works for me But everyone has their own way She is someone deeply in love with her freedom I think that’s because she was a wise girl, very well educated and very disciplined Whenever she can do something on her own, she does it with extraordinary joy That’s her childish side, a bit wild and craving freedom I was reading a book the other day lt talked about a medical patient who kept hearing a piano sound So I asked myself: “What do I really hear? I think I hear something abstract I don’t hear sounds, I hear the music lt’s hard to explain I don’t hear the sound of a flute or a piano I hear something that doesn’t exist Something that’s only there in my mind’s ear

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