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 »  Home  »  Music  »  Ana Vidovic in Zagreb 29 May 2012 playing with the Zagreb Soloists
Ana Vidovic in Zagreb 29 May 2012 playing with the Zagreb Soloists
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  05/25/2012 | Music | Unrated
Ana Vidovic is one of the greatest guitarists of today in the world

Ana Vidović, distinguished Croatian guitarist living in the USA.
Photo by David Roy Duenias and Michael Benabib.

The Zagreb Soloists

Zagrebački solisti i Ana Vidović, gitara
Hrvatski glazbeni zavod, Zagreb, Gundulićeva 6a, utorak 29. svibnja 2012., 20 sati


S. Horvat: Concertino za gudače

A. Vivaldi: Koncert za gitaru i gudače u C-duru, RV 425

A. Vivaldi: Koncert za gitaru i gudače u D-duru, RV 93

Solistica: Ana Vidović, gitara   


A. Dvořak: Serenada za gudače u E-duru, op. 22

Ana Vidović
Zagrebački solisti

Ana Vidović. Photo by David Roy Duenias and Michael Benabib.


Ana Vidović. Photo by David Roy Duenias and Michael Benabib.

Interview with Ana Vidović
Interview for CITHARA - Societé Luxembourgoise de guitare classique, Ettelbruck, on 20th of Octobre 2003.

The interview was organized by Cithara one day after her concert in Beckerich, after giving masterclasses to several students of the Conservatoire de Musique du Nord.

Léon: Christine, my pupil, wanted to ask you how you came to play the guitar?

Ana: Well I started to play guitar because I come from a musical family. I have two brothers and they are musicians, one of them is pianist and the other one is a guitarist. My father was a musician too. He wasn’t a classical musician. He was a guitarist and he used to play in a band and he used to travel around. So I guess the music was just a natural thing for us kids and we always had a lot of instruments in our house. We had a piano and a guitar. My older brother Victor started to play guitar when he was eight and he is very talented and he took it very seriously from the beginning. Growing up with him I used to listen to him practice and I really got interested into that. I would sit in the same room with him and I would listen to him practice and I just got intriged with the guitar, with the sound and everything. Because he was playing so well. So that’s how I got started and Victor was my first teacher. My father was also teaching me. I guess all the things came to the right places and I just started to play.

André: At what age did you start to play?

Ana: I was five.

Léon: Was it the classical guitar that you played first?

Ana: Well actually I played a couple of instruments before. I played the flute, a little flute for kids. And I played piano also because my other brother is a pianist. But then I just decided to start with the guitar. I liked the guitar the most.

Jean: Why do you like guitar the most?

Ana: I think because the guitar is the only instrument that you really hold, next to your heart. It is something that is very close to you and the sound is very warm and you have so many different colours on guitar. Maybe because while I was little, listening to my brother I really got interested in that. It was the first guitar player that I ever heard and I said to myself that I wanted to play like him. It looked so complicated, so challenging. But then later because guitar is such a difficult instrument to play, very challenging, very demanding. I guess the stringed instruments are more demanding than other instruments. And you get to a lot of problems. It’s just very challenging for me and it has always been.

André: Why do you think that the stringed instruments are so much more challenging than the others?

Ana: Well I think because . . . O.k. every instrument is challenging in itself. But for example violin, cello and guitar, when you start to play them you have to work so hard on the sound. On the violin for example, just to have a good sound you have to work for many years and with the guitar too because you have to find the right shape of your nails, you have to work on the colours, you want to be able to sound good. To even not moving your hand a lot to change colours. There are just a lot of things you can do on guitar. I’m not saying that piano is an easy instrument, but you can sort of press the keys and it makes a sound. But with the guitar it takes a lot of time to just get the clear sound. So I think it is more demanding.

Léon: What kind of music did your brother play?

Ana: He had a teacher that he worked with and he used to play a lot of Bach and a lot of Albeniz, very difficult pieces for his age. While he was twelve he was already playing difficult repertoire. So just by listening to him I learned a lot of things. Then he started to teach me and he was a very tough teacher because he wanted to make me sound like him. Then after that I started to work with his teacher for like twelve years. So he was basically the person that taught me. His name was Istvan Romer. And after that I came to Baltimore to work with Manuel Barrueco.

Jean: When you started to play, were you able to read the notes?

Ana: I don’t really remember how it started. My brother would play something and I would repeat. I didn’t know the notes, I would just repeat. For some reason it came easily to me. My parents told me that I knew how to play even though I didn’t know the notes.

Jean: So first the instrument and after that the instrument . . . ?

Ana: I learned the music, yeah. Maybe because I watched him so much and I listened to him, it maybe just came to me. But I didn’t know the notes, I learned them later in the music school. But of course then it is easier to learn new music when you know the notes and everything.

Nadine: Did you have a small guitar at the beginning?

Ana: I think I had my brothers guitar , which was a regular size. We didn’t have small guitars back then. I don’t remember but somehow I just started playing on that and gradually I got my own guitar which was actually a little bit smaller than the first one.

André: How did you come into contact with Manuel Barrueco?

Ana: I did my batchelors in Kroatia when I was eighteen and I had to decide to continue work with somebody else because I was working with my first teacher for such a long time. He actually told me that I should go and work with somebody else: ‘I taught you many things, now you need a change and you should see somebody else’. Then actually I got a call from Manuel’s manager one day and she told me that she heard my CD and she just asked me if I was planning to come to the U.S., to study. I told her that I wasn’t sure and that I was still thinking about it, because I was thinking to go to Julliard . . . But then I heard from her and she said that I was  welcome to come, and that she would help me to come to study  with Barrueco, so . . . So I gave it a thought and then I decided to go. That CD was recorded five or six years ago, and Manuel Barrueco heard it and he liked it and he was really interested to start to work with me.

Nadine: When you want to learn a new piece on the guitar, how do you work?

Ana: Before, when I was younger I would just pick up the music and just play. I wasn’t really thinking about it so much. But now I try really to decide what I am going to play. Like for the program I played yesterday, I wanted to have a mixture of a lot of things, different styles. Before I even read the music, I just look at it and try to sing it in my mind, then I read the music and then I decide about the caracter, about the moods, to analyse everything and then I start to work on it, doing the dynamics, learning it by memory. It’s a big proces, there are a lot of steps. But I’m definetely more careful now how I do it, then before, to make sure that I know what I’m doing.

André: Manuel Barrueco is known for being a perfectionist. I heard that he only plays a piece after having practised it during one year. How is your approach to this?

Ana: Well, it depends on the piece. Before I go out and play the piece I want to make sure that the piece is ready, not only 100% but even 200% ready. So that I don’t make any mistakes. It depends on the piece how much time I use for it. I’m not going out before having played it for somebody else, a group of people, my friends. Because when you play a new piece the first time in front of an audience, it’s not going to be good, you are not secure enough, it’s not ready. So I always play it for somebody before. It takes a lot of time and I try to live with the piece for some time. I don’t know if it is a year, it’s difficult to say. When I’m ready, I go out and play it, not before.

André: With every piece that you are playing, do you work on it with Manuel Barrueco?

Ana: Well, now I try to work more by myself. We used to work a lot. But I try to find my own way and he also wants me to do that. It’s good to have guidance, but after a certain time you have to be able to do it yourself. Because you are performing and want to have your own ideas. But we used to work on every single piece, and he would give me his ideas and his  opinions. But he says I should do what I think that is right. I think he is right that there is a time that you have to start doing it yourself.

Léon: Can you tell us something about your early school system and about the music school you went to?

Ana: I started to go to music school when I was seven or eight. That was the beginning, that was a preparatory school. It lasted for six years. But I was doing two years in one year . . .

May I  ask you about your regular school in early childhood and also afterwards, as  you went to the music school?

Ana: I also went to a normal school, but I wasn’t there all the time, because I was busy in the music school. I was passing exams in the regular school and going to another one. I didn’t have the time to sit there with the kids of my age. And then when I went to the academy, I would do the same thing. I was just passing the exams at the end of the semester and it was very difficult, because I would spent time with the older kids but not with the kids of my own age. I wouldn’t do this with my kid, you should be able to spent time with the kids of your own age. In Kroatia you have to have the high school diploma to get your bachelors degree. So I had to do that in the same time.

André: Did you know already at this early age that you would like to make your life with the guitar as a professional later on?

Ana: I don’t think that I was aware that it would going to be my life. My parents were really helping me with the school and everything. Especially my father. I started travelling when I was young and my mother would always travel with me. After some time I had to decide what I wanted to do. Around my 16th or 17th I was going through a difficult time. And I decided to do it professionally. I liked to do it and I loved to play. It’s like the most wonderful feeling when you go up on the stage and being able to show people what you can do. Behind that there is a lot of work and determination, consistency and everything. I think when you go on stage it all comes together, all the hard work pays off.

Jean: How many hours do you practice a day?

Ana: Five, six hours, it depends if I’m busy or not. When I’m busy I will play four or three hours. But usually five or six hours. During the weekends more. I don’t really count hours anymore, I try to decide in the morning what I am going to work on. What is my goal for that day. What I want to do with the pieces that I’m playing.

Jean: Since when? When you were eight or nine how much did you practice then?

Ana: when I was younger I used to play less, two or three hours maybe. But I would always practice a lot.

André: Can you tell us something about your guitar?

Ana: It’s a Robert Ruck guitar, that I just got a year ago. It’s a new guitar. I used to play on a Kroatian guitar, that I was given as a present. This guitar was just something new, and such a big difference to the one that I had before. The one that I had before was much more difficult to play. When I first got this one I couldn’t believe how easy it is to play. Technically and musically.  . . . That’s the key, you want to be able to do as little as possible, but still . . . I always felt like I was struggling with my previous guitar, it was so hard to get the sound out. But I think it was good that I had that guitar, because that’s how I learned. Once you get this one, you just feel that you can do what you want to do. It’s much  easier.

André: Can you explain about the two extra holes in the guitar?

Ana: It’s a new thing that Robert Ruck does. They are mainly for the projection of the sound, if you play in a bigger hall. One of the holes is to project to the audience and the other one is for the player. When you cover the holes it doesn’t project so much.

André: During the courses you insisted very much on the practising of the scales. Could you explain why this is so important for you.

Ana: My teacher always encouraged me to play scales all the time. He would even write the scales down, a lot of different types of scales that I should practice. He always encouraged me to do it every day, at least half an hour, even more. I think everything starts from the scales. There are so many things that you can solve in the scales, without even practising the piece. Like I was telling today, if you have a problem to solve, your hand is like this or like that, you have a bad sound, any kind of problem, you can always solve it with a scale. As long as you practise scales. There are also a lot of variations that you can do with the scale. You can also practise slurs, vibrato, tremolo, anything. It is also important how you practise the scale. It’s not just a scale. It has to be slow, you have to be concentrated, you have to use the metronome. Many things. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just basic scales. It is what you do with it that is important.

Leon: Could you tell us something about the methods you used in the beginning?

Ana: I remember that my teacher always encouraged me to do Carlevaro studies. I did all the four books and I think that was one of the reasons why I developed a technique quite early. It was very useful, I always recommend that for people to learn. Because Carlevaro has so many good studies for both hands. That’s the main thing I did. {Abel Carlevaro: Serie didactica para la guitarra. Cuaderno 1 – 4, Barry Buenos Aires; see also the Cithara-interview with Alfredo Escande}. I also did a lot of studies in the beginning: Fernando Sor, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Francisco Tarrega and then later I started to play pieces. But my teacher always wanted me to have the technical base and then we would work on music. I think the technique is the base of everything and then you can build on it after that.

Jean: Which strings do you use?

Ana: I always use D’Addario hard tension. I feel very comfortable with them.

André: Marie-Jeanne (one of the pupils) wanted to know whether you are only giving concerts or if  you  are also teaching. Can you tell us something about your teaching?

Ana: I do teach. I have a couple of private students, of all ages and levels. I have a very talented kid of ten years old. He is so talented. One day he will be great and it’s such a pleasure to work with him. And he is already planning to work with Barrueco.

Leon: Maybe you would like to tell us about your plans for the near future.

Ana: I would like to continue doing this: the performing, travelling and everything. But the most important thing is that I would like to improve even more and keep working on the music. And keep improving myself. And always sound better and better. I mean there is so much that you can improve always, technique wise and music wise. I like to have a lot of influences. I play with other musicians and I learn from them. From violinists, pianists, cellists . . Because sometimes you have a career going on and you stop improving yourself, which is not good. You have always to sound better. And I have a recording coming up soon, with a new program. I’m still going to take some lessons with Manuel Barrueco. I’m teaching, I like to teach. It’s one of my goals to be able to teach somewhere fulltime

Leon: Could you tell us something about the repertoire you studied?

Ana: I’ve done a lot of Bach music since I was very young. My teacher liked me to learn Bach music. So I did all cello suites and some of the violin sonatas and also the lute transcriptions. It was very good that I did that. Also some 20th century music, like Brouwer and some Croatian pieces and Ponce and Albeniz, Barrios, Tarrega. When I was younger I used to do a lot of Tarrega and Sor and Giuliani. But the main influence was the music of Bach. It is very intellectual, it really makes you think and you improve that way.

Leon: What would you like to do now?

Ana: I still want to be committed to Bach, I want to collect all the Bach music that I did and to put it in to one program and just play Bach music. I like Baroque, I enjoy it so much. It’s probably the favourite thing that I like to play. I’m trying to do Piazzolla and Brouwer. I think I will do the Walton Bagatelles again. So I want to do Baroque music and 20th century music, maybe even just a Brouwer program. And maybe to do some of my own arrangements of Bach music.

François: Doing the recording for Naxos was something special?

Ana: The reason why I did that recording was because of the competition I did in Spain. I won the first prize and part of the first prize was the recording of the CD. It was a good way of promoting myself and a lot of people heard it. It was good. I did some CD’s before and there is one after this one that I did together with my brothers, it’s a live-concert CD. {Ana Vidovic: Guitar Recital on Naxos 8.554563; First Prize, 1998 International Francisco Tárrega Competition, Benicásim}

Nadine: Do you want to do more competitions?

Ana: I don’t like competitions so much anymore. I did that before when I was younger. Competitions are not always good for the players, it is very competitive. But it is not always the way to make a career. I’m very lucky to have people who organize concerts for me. Competitions are good to get your name out there, to compete with other young people, to see where you are in this world. It’s also good for you because it’s challenging and you get a prize. But after some time you still have to keep improving, you are on your own after that. There are other ways to have to make your career going on. Competitions are not always the solution for everything.

Leon: Do you have some general recommendations for our guitar students?

Ana: I think the most important thing is to like what you are doing. You can’t really do something without liking it. It won’t work anyway. You have to enjoy it. I hope that the people who played today really enjoy what they are doing and that they want to make it better. You have to have a certain goal. Even if it’s just for fun. If you want to improve, you will have to like it. Of course it is important to practice a lot. Even if you practice for an hour, it’s how you practice which is important. I hope that when they practice for an hour that they’re really into it, into what they are doing. Listening to music is very important and to go to concerts. And to listen and analyse music. Listen any kind of music: classical, rock, pop, jazz, it doesn’t have to be just classical.


Ana Vidović as a child in her native city of Karlovac in Croatia


F. Amando Ivančić (1727-1790)

Very little seems to be known of the life of Father Amando Ivančić. Of Croatian origins, he was baptised Matthias Leopold Ivančić on Christmas Eve of 1727 in Wiener Neustadt; we know that he entered the Pauline Order in 1744 - taking the name Amandus/Amando - and that he spent some years in a monastic house in Graz. He later spent some considerable time teaching in the town of Trnava in modern Slovakia. Certainly he was relatively prolific as a composer – of church music, of symphonies and divertimenti and of chamber sonatas - particularly works for flute. Works by Ivančić have turned up in archives in Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Germany, as well as in Slovakia and Poland.

Glyn Pursglove (excerpt)


Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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