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Martina Filjak from Croatian child prodigy to mature pianist
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  01/23/2009 | People , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Her career started at the age of 12 with the renowned "Zagreb Soloists"

Martin Filjak, Croatian pianist

Martina Filjak is considered to be one of those young artists who have successfully made the path from a child prodigy to a mature musician. Her 'magnetic stage presence' and 'charismatic personality' regularly impress audiences and critics with a wide range of repertoire, which includes monumental pieces such as the "Hammerklavier" Sonata of Beethoven or the 2nd piano concerto of Bartok.

Since her debut in native Croatia at the age of 12 with the renowned "Zagreb Soloists" playing Mozart concerto KV 449, she has developed an extensive repertoire of piano concertos performing regularly in the most prominent concert cycles in her home country (with for example the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Zagreb Symphony Orchestra and the Croatian Chamber Orchestra) as well as with orchestras abroad.

She was featured in numerous important solo engagements both at home and internationally (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; Hotel de Ville, Bruxelles; Philharmonic Hall, Ljubljana; Salle Cortot, Paris; Palais des Congres, Strasbourg; National Palace of Culture, Sofia; Boesendorfer Saal, Vienna; Steinway Hall New York).

The season 2005-2006 brought her over 50 appearances worldwide where she performed as a soloist with orchestras of the Strasbourg Philharmonic, Croatian Symphony Orchestra ,The Morocco Philharmonic, The Belgrade Philharmonic, as well as toured with Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Croatian Chamber Orchestra, featuring concertos of Mozart and (KV 414 and KV 466), Rachmaninov, Grieg and Schostakovitch. In the same season she held recital performances in France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Japan. Her interpretation of Beethoven's op.106 in Germany's 'Villa Musica' have earned her standing ovations and rave reviews.

In 2007-08 she became a laureate of important international piano competitions: in the finals of the 'Busoni' piano competition in Bolzano she received the 5th prize , and in November 2007 she won 1st prize at the 58. International 'Viotti' Piano Competition among 122 contestants. In January 2008 she was awarded 5th Prize at the UNISA International Piano Competition in Pretoria and in May 2008 1st prize and Gold Medal at the 54 International Piano Competition 'Maria Canals' in Barcelona. She performed with the ensembles of Streicherakademie Bozen , Torino Philharmonic Orchestra , the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa as well as the Orquestra Simfonica del Valles.

Martina Filjak was twice awarded prizes that brought her the title of the most successful young Croatian musician: 1993 the prize of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and 1998 the prize of the Jeunesses Musicales, Croatia.

Since childhood she was a winner of a number of international prizes that include the prize of the Boesendorfer company in Vienna , a special prize at the Okiden Competition in Japan , 1st prizet at the International Competitions ' Johannes Brahms' in Austria , ‘M. Masin’ in Italy , 'International Keyboard Institute Competition' in New York, USA and 'Vincenzo Bellini' competition in Italy, the honorary prize on the 'Animato competition' in Paris, the 'Clara Haskil' scholarship of the Dutch foundation 'Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds' as well as the "Alfred Toepfer" scholarship.

Martina Filjak was born in Zagreb and raised in a family of pianists. She completed her musical education in the Music Academy of Zagreb, and the Vienna Conservatory. In 2001 her studies took her to the Netherlands and Germany (the cities of Rotterdam and Karlsruhe).

In search for further artistic development she took part in masterclasses (Moscow, Salzburg , New York) and regularly maintains contact with renowned artists as Cyprien Katsaris, Stephen (Bishop-) Kovacevich, Jean Bernard Pommier. Currently she is pursuing her studies at the Soloist Class of the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater in Hannover with Prof. Mi Kyung Kim.

During the summer 2008 Martina will perform in Music festivals in Berlin, New York, Passau and Dubrovnik. Projects for 2009 include touring Spain and China , performances with Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Zagreb Philharmonic and the Torino Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a debut recording for the 'Naxos' label.


 "Martina Filjak played her concerto of Mozart KV 449 clearly with more souvereignity, she simply knew professionally what mattered. She showed her capability of producing a long and carrying sound with all the sensitivity of nuances needed. Additionally , she knew how to balance her play with the orchestra, so that each entry worked perfectly together ....She managed to play the second movement with an intense flow within the musical content....." (Piano News , September 2007 , Article regarding the Busoni Competition , Carsten Duerer)

"...performing Grieg's Concerto in A -minor, Martina Filjak was a real discovery. She was educated in Zagreb and Vienna and is currently the only student of Stephen (Bishop-Kovacevich ... her playing unifies power, lots of nuances and clear articulation that fitted greatly to the romantic expression of Grieg..." (Marc Munch , "Alsace news", Strasbourg , December 2005)

The surprise of the evening was the appearance of Martina Filjak, a young lady that equally flew over the keyboard as she powerfully used it in an incredibly virtuous and strongly emotional performance of Schostakovitch' 1st piano concerto op.35 …with outstanding virtuosity and dedication, with forcible rhythms , wild fireworks of technical brilliance and a fine sense for elegiac moments she gave an overwhelming impression… (Susi Hofmann,, Zuricher Oberlander, Switzerland , April 2006)

"Martina Filjak mastered in a phenomenal way not only the score of the ‘Hammerklavier Sonata ‘ by Beethoven but she also entered into the very centre of the composition….a suggestive playing that never reduced the tension of the musical line…..a very deserved standing ovation!" (‘Die Rheinpfalz‘ 23.10.2006)

Martina Filjak won the 5th prize at the Busoni Competition

This August, Croatian pianist Martina Filjak won the 5th prize of the prestigious Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy. Ms Filjak was the first Croat to take part in the final in the last 20 years, after Dubravka Tomšić and Predrag Mužijević. In spite of the excellent level of this year's contestants, no one won the first prize.

Martina was born in Zagreb in a family of pianists. She completed her musical education at the Zagreb Music Academy and the Vienna Conservatoire. In 2001, her studies took her to the Netherlands and Germany (Rotterdam and Karlsruhe). Seeking further artistic development, she took part in masterclasses (Moscow, Salzburg, New York) and maintained regular contact with renowned artists Cyprien Katsaris, Oleg Maisenberg, Jean Bernard Pommier and Gyorgy Sandor. In October 2004, she commenced studies with renowned pedagogue Karlheinz Kaemmerling at the Hochschule, Hannover. She is also coached in London by pianist Stephen Kovacevich.

Martina has won several renowned international competitions in Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, the USA and Japan. She was twice awarded the title of ‘Most Successful Young Croatian Musician’ after winning prizes from the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jeunesses Musicales Croatia.


Martina Filjak had a very busy 2005/6 season, with over 50 performances. She was soloist with the following Orchestras: Strasbourg, Morocco and Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestras and also the Croatian Symphony. She toured with the Zagreb Philharmonic and Croatian Chamber Orchestras featuring concertos by Mozart K414 and K466 and also Rachmaninov, Grieg and Shostakovitch. She also gave recitals in France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Japan.

In recent competitions, she has had the following prizes awarded:
The Kawai Prize in Los Angeles, the prize of Böesendorfer (Vienna) for the performance of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, special prize in the Okiden Competition (Japan) 1st prize Johannes Brahms (Austria), 1st prize Competition for piano and Orchestra ( M. Masin - Italy), 1st prize Keyboard Institute Competition New York, 1st prize in Vincenzo Bellini Competition (Italy), honorary prize on the 'Animato' Competition (Paris). Finalist in the Busoni Competition (Italy).

She has now 3 CDs of solo works and upcoming projects include performances in the Ljubljana Philharmonic Hall, a tour in Spain, recital in Warsaw, recital at Festival de Pays Briard, France and concerto appearances with the Zagreb and Croatian Orchestras.

She has now an Artists Management Agency based in Croatia and in the United Kingdom.


Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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