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On life with a violin, success and the future

Fast Confession - Musical virtuosos and child geniuses Richard and Eduard Kollert: It has never occurred to us that we should insure our hands

Karolína Lišková
09.Feb 2022
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7 minutes to read

They say an apple doesn't fall far from a tree. And in the Kollert family, this saying is doubly true. Jiří Kollert is an extraordinary pianist, so it is no surprise that his two sons Eduard and Richard decided to carry on the family musical tradition. They both chose the violin. Experts claim the boys are child geniuses. Their performances are breathtaking. In an interview with LP-Life.com, the brothers talked not only about how much they have to work to achieve success, but also about the emotions music makes them feel.

Your mother is from Japan, both of you were born there, do you remember anything from that time?

E.: I do. I even went to a Japanese school for a few years when I was a child. The timing of their summer holidays is a bit off, so when we have holidays here in the Czech Republic, they have to go to school. So I attended not one, but two schools. I have a lot of memories, wonderful memories. Many of them are from there.

You're about five years younger, what do you remember from Japan?

R.: Actually, I had to be in the Czech Republic, so I don't remember much. But it's amazingly beautiful there.

Have you already played a concert there?

Yep.

Prodej luxusního bytu s terasou, Praha 8
Prodej luxusního bytu s terasou, Praha 8, Praha 8

Is it a place you’d like to return to?

R.: Yes, one hundred percent.

You must have family there, are you in touch, are they following your path to success?

Both: Of course.

You both started playing the violin at a relatively young age. Why the violin? Why not the piano like your parents?

E.: I started playing both instruments, the violin and the piano. The reason was that I had seen Maestro Suk's concert with my dad. That was where I started liking the violin, so I decided to try and play both instruments. Over time, the violin became my favourite. There’s no big reason behind it, it simply happened that way.

R.: For me, it was like my brother was playing, and it started rubbing off on me.

So you basically had no choice?

R.: No, I wanted to try it.

E.: Of course, he has to try everything his older brother is doing...

Who discovered that huge talent of yours? Was it a family member or a teacher? Because you’re considered musical geniuses. So who was the person that said: Start playing, because you have what it takes to be the best of the best?

E.: That wasn’t a sudden discovery. It gradually accumulated, and one day it turned out that something had emerged there. But it's not that I simply told myself: I’m talented. It is a gradual process.

R.: It came from my brother.

Many parents want their children to play a musical instrument and sometimes they even force them into it. Because you have to train a lot if you want to be any good. A lot of children often don't feel like it. Have you always been eager to practise?

E.: Naturally, practice isn’t always fun. I often don't feel like it either, that's normal. For me, it was more about knowing that practice was a necessity for me to achieve the goal I wanted. A step I had to take if I wanted to see results. So I practised a lot, but I didn't always enjoy it.

R.: Like my brother, I wasn’t always excited about it either, but it gradually became automatic. If you want to achieve success, practice is a must.

In order to do that, though, you have to be very sure of what you really want. But both of you were too young to know what you want in life.

E.: I started playing the violin pretty late, at seven. At that time, I already had my goals straight, and that hasn’t changed. It’s not that I wasn’t sure back then. I was very sure.

You were sure about it already at that age?

R.: Yes. For example, people were talking about the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, and hearing it made me realize I wanted to be there.

Prodej funkcionalistické vily Praha - 360m
Prodej funkcionalistické vily Praha - 360m, Praha 8

What does a day in the life of a successful violinist such as yourself look like?

E.: My typical day is not very interesting. You get up and start practising. Of course, there is time for learning and leisure too. It’s the same for everyone who wants to achieve something.

But you have to go to school, too. There are different subjects in Czech schools... Do you have an individual study plan? I assume you do.

R.: Yes, I do. I have to take commission exams every semester, which involves a written test or oral exams from all subjects, and then I get a report card. So I have to learn continuously throughout the year and set up a date for exams with my teachers at the end of each semester.

In addition to studying at Czech schools, you also study abroad. Where?

1. I am currently studying at the Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid and at the same time in Switzerland. Aside from that, I travel to various masterclasses with my professor, that's part of this life.

2. I’m studying in Switzerland under the same professor as my brother.

When you have a concert, you’re invited to play somewhere, you perform with people much older than yourselves. How does it make you feel? You’re still pretty much kids and suddenly there’s a maestro next to you, what’s going on in your mind?

E.: It’s mainly gratitude that I can stand next to these people. And then the joy of being there. And the resolution to do my utter best.

R.: Same for me. Striving to do my best and gratitude that I can perform alongside a maestro.

Does it ever happen that you get treated like a child who knows nothing about the world? Don't you feel that way?

R.: No, they treat me the same as other people.

Are there any offers you refuse?

E.: So far, if I have to refuse, it's because it doesn't work logistically. But every opportunity is a wonderful opportunity, and so far, I think, we have accepted every offer.

R.: That’s right.

This might be a question your parents should answer, but I'll ask you. Are you already making money on all that hard work? Do you get paid?

E.: I get royalties sometimes, but it's not like I'm actually making money. Rather, it’s a form of scholarship for further development. It's not the kind of money one could live on, but it does help me advance in my career.

R.: Same for me.

Your parents have invested a lot of money in your education and instruments, how much does your violin cost?

E.: Some instruments can cost millions. But I don't play such an instrument now, unfortunately. I did have the opportunity to try, though.

Do you count with your parents getting their investments back?

R.: Maybe. I don't know.

Models, for example, insure their long legs, did you insure your dexterous hands?

E.: I haven't thought of that.

You’re not insured against fractures of your hands?

E.: No, we’re not. Not yet.

Tell me a place where you would like to play? A place where I can't even imagine ever going to see a concert.

E.: We’ve had concerts in a number of places I couldn’t have even imagined before. I have been to Kazakhstan three times, or to Jordan - that really made an impression on me. We went to Dubai together after Christmas. There are a lot of places that you can't even imagine going to, and then it's a wonderful feeling.

And what was the most amazing feeling you’ve experienced?

R.: Dubai again. I represented the Visegrad Four there and I look forward to more opportunities. For example in America or in the Golden Hall in Vienna.

Are these opportunities already on the table?

E.: No, it's just a wish.

Perhaps it will come true, we’ll be looking forward to it. What kind of projects do you work on together?

R.: We play together at different concerts. We played together in Dubai, for instance, and we might come up with something again.

Siblings usually poke fun at each other. Isn’t there a certain tension while you’re working on joint projects and if so, how do you deal with it?

E.: 90 percent of our practice is bow fencing, it's not easy, but in the end, we always end up agreeing somehow. Of course, it's always complicated, but in the end, it works out one way or another. We don’t have a recipe for it.

Are your parents giving you advice?

R.: They’re helping.

What awaits you this year?

R.: A concert in Denmark, a concert with Prague Philharmonia - PKF at the end of February. I don't remember everything by heart.

E.: In mid-February, we have a concert in Budapest with a radio orchestra. In May I have four concerts, three in Uherské Hradiště and one in Zlín with the Zlín Philharmonic. And a couple of other concerts, I have a tour there as well, I think, I’m looking forward to it.

I feel like you’re still kids, and kids should be able to go to school, build relationships, make friends. Aren’t you deprived of that, doesn’t it bother you?

R.: It doesn’t, because when I go to concerts, I meet new friends and I enjoy it. If I want to play, I'll play something.

Minecraft?

R.: Or something on Nintendo.

E.: I don't study at a normal school, but at a music school, where I have a lot of friends who do the same thing. And I travel a lot, for example to competitions or concerts, so I also make new friends through that. Some are my age, some are younger or older. It's very versatile. I really enjoy the variety.

You told me that in 10 years from now, you still see yourself travelling and playing concerts. But one day you will have to settle down somewhere, start your own families. Have you perhaps already chosen a specific country?

E.: That’s a very difficult question. It is one of the questions - as opposed to the one that I would like to achieve - that is still open.

R.: We don't know where we’re going to live yet.

If a 10-year-old boy came to you saying that he saw your concert and that he wants to be as good as you. What advice would you give him?

R.: That he should follow his dream. Even though it’s a lot of work, the result will be worth it.

E.: To work hard, of course. Hard work is a must, it’s the only way towards the goal I want to achieve. But appreciate every step, every success and failure. It all comes together and leads to further development.

Thank you for the interview.

Fast confession:

What's the most amazing thing about the violin?

Richard: That I can perform and travel all around the world.
Eduard: Endless possibilities of sound, thanks to which you can connect with people.

How many languages do you speak?

R.: Five.
E.: Zero, but I know about seven.

How many hours a day do you train?

R.: Four to six.
E.: Same. Sometimes four, sometimes six.

Which musical success do you consider most valuable so far?

R.: Playing in the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow at the finals of the Nutcracker competition and then playing with Maestro Domingo at the festival in Krumlov.
E.: It is very difficult to choose one, but probably my first concert with the orchestra of the Prague Chamber Philharmonic. That’s actually the seed from which my career is growing, so I remember it really well.

Your favourite song?

R.: Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto or Shostakovich's Concerto.
E.: It's hard to pick one, also it keeps changing. When I was little, I liked Beethoven, at thirteen or fourteen Shostakovich, then Prokofiev, and now it's late Romanticism, Elgar, Tchaikovsky.

What kind of music do you listen to other than classical?

R.: All kinds, for example pop.
E.: I’ve recently found Zarzuela.

Which sport do you excel at?

R.: In roller skates.
E.: Me too.

Which artist would you like to play with at least once in your life?

R.: With Vengerov.
E.: We have a lot of excellent conductors in the Czech Republic, I would like to play with every one of them. Otherwise, of the pianists, probably Mr. Lukáš Vondráček.

Who is your role model?

R.: Maestro Vengerov.
E.: Maestro Domingo.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you're not playing?

R .: I play Minecraft or Nintendo.
E .: Reading and everything related to movies.

Your recipe for success?

R.: Working hard and looking forward to the results.
E.: Doing everything from the heart and taking nothing for granted.

Name at least one of your negative traits.

R.: I am a prankster.
E.: I might be a little stubborn every now and then.

What does no one know about you?

R.: I have two names.
E.: So do I.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

R .: I’ll still be travelling the world with my violin, maybe I’ll be studying somewhere.
E .: Traveling with my violin and sharing positive energy through music with people around the world.
Question by the interviewee for the interviewer:

R.: What is your job like?

My job is great because I meet awesome people like you two.
E.: Your recipe for success?
Patience.
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