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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
R.: Yes. For example, people were talking about the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, and hearing it made me realize I wanted to be there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
E.: Some instruments can cost millions. But I don't play such an instrument now, unfortunately. I did have the opportunity to try, though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.