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Violinist.com Interviews: Vol. 1

Our exclusive, one-on-one interviews with 27 of today's best-known violinists, including Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, David Garrett, Anne Akiko Meyers, Maxim Vengerov, and others.


Emily Grossman

What You Need

January 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM

You can't always get what you want; that's basically how I would sum up the story line for Puccini's opera, Tosca. And, I have to confess, it wasn't just the beautiful music, the free ticket, and the fact that I would be getting to look down on my fellow Anchorage symphony friends from the Mezzanine. (Bravo, by the way!) No, I chose Tosca to be my first live opera experience because once I looked it up on the internet, I became riveted by the tragic plot, in which two lovers almost live happily ever after but (spoiler alert!) end up dying violently instead at the last minute, to some of the most ironic music ever written.

Something about a good tragedy really appeals to my dark, cynical side. I don't know, is it too many long winters in Alaska? Or am I just a realist? After all, does anyone really truly live happily ever after? (I'm thinking long and hard between sentences.) Even from a spiritual stand point, I've been told not to put too much stock in what this life has to offer, that the soul was meant for Heaven, and could only look forward to being reunited with its real home some day.

So, I'd gotten used to disappointment somewhere along the way. I've become so accustomed to chasing the moon in vain that I guess I forgot to stop and ask myself what I'd ever do with myself if one day...

I'm happy. I confess. I haven't wanted to write about it, though, under this notion that it's all just too good to be true. In a frightfully unstable economy where no future seems certain--especially where musicians and careers are concerned--everything seems to have magically fallen into place. I'm not rich and famous by any means (yet!), but I have what I need. I practice five hours a day, and that still isn't enough to cover all my musical venues, what with the symphony, the string quartet, and my upcoming chamber music concert in March. I'm squeezing rehearsals in left and right, all while dreaming even more about what amazing musical adventure I can take next.

Why is it, that when faced with the fiscal cliff, I chose to take a running start and dive headlong with the purchase of my dream violin? Was it the sensation of flying that I craved, the sheer pleasure of feeling weightless for a spell? Perhaps I was hoping there's nothing at the bottom of the cliff, and I'll just get to float on forever.

I don't know how this particular story will end, but given a choice between stability and dream chasing, I will always choose music, foregoing other luxuries and securities to be with my passion. I feel that only by jumping in with all I have can I escape a fate worse than death. (You only need to peruse my dark entries from last spring to understand.) Regardless of what's at the bottom of this, I already know I will be happiest if I'm following my God-given passion. After all, creating is a survival need, right up there with eating. It is the signature of the human soul, and identifies us with our Creator. Even in the most impoverished countries, people still play music; it's been this way since the beginning.

No you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you may find...


From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Emily - very interesting and inspirational post. I am not surprised things have fallen into place for you because you have the sort of personality and drive that make things happen. While you have benefited from some luck, living happily ever after requires being able to leverage what luck you have, looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty, and taking risks to do and be what you want. It also requires dealing with the bad things that come your way and getting past them as well as possible. So, keep doing what you are doing and letting us know how it is going.

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