Andrea Várnagy about the joint performance of ZeneVarázslat and Hangrózsa

On 17th December 2023, we had the honor of having Andrea Várnagy concert pianist awarded with Franz Liszt Prize as a guest of our student concert, and with her daughter Lili Farkas gave a small taste of their Music Magic program. After the concert, she also honored us by standing in front of our camera and telling us how she felt and what she experienced at our event.;;

In the video below, we present this interview and also show some musical details from the concert. If you prefer to read, scroll below, you will find the text of the interview below the video.

Let me greet our dear viewers. I am Balázs Juhász, founder of Hangrózsa Zongoraiskola Piano School, and as my guest I can welcome the Andrea Várnagy concert pianist awarded with Franz Liszt Prize, with whom our mission is to introduce classical music to as many people as possible. Andrea, how does this manifest itself in your life?

First of all, thank you very much for the honorable invitation. I also arrived with the thoughts that our objectives are indeed very similar. I think that we need to show people that with music you can express things that cannot be said with words, and that very often music heals the soul, and I try to convey this while standing on stage, and you next to the piano, when they get to know the first notes and can already say the messages that the composers hide behind the notes. In my life, it started as I always loved being on stage, I had a dream to be an actress, and the story is completely ordinary, and here we are connected again, because the personality of a very good teacher can really show the way so that, let's say, a child chooses a career as a vocation, let's say they happen to be a piano teacher or a pianist, or simply to colorize and enrich their life. I also had such a piano teacher in my life, who showed me what wonders lie in the world of Beethoven, Mozart or Liszt, and under her influence I started to think about entering the music field, and then a world of wonders opened up there, very good teachers accompanied me on my way, there were many, many successes and many failures, and there was a lot of encouragement to start this, and when I returned from Germany - I graduated in Germany, in Munich and in Dortmund - then it was a very, very nice attitude that my children were born, and I had the feeling that maybe it would be my mission to show children the beauty and values inherent in classical music. And there are no coincidences - coincidence is God's nickname - we received an invitation from the Philharmonic to show the wonderful world inherent in music with the help of poems. And that's how the concert series started, which then grew into a big movement, the MusicMagic Movement, and has already reached more than 2 million children, across borders, and now even across the sea, and as a result, all the international piano duet competitions, masterclasses, music camps, and in practice the movement's work rests on three pillars: talent management, the organization of many programs, and of course my work as a performer and artist. Of course, it starts with me taking the stage and introducing them to the world of classical music with my duet partner, then this is followed by the international piano duet competition, to which we are expecting them, and they can show what music means to them, and and the meeting point is when we already meet at music camps and masterclasses, and in this way I can help their musical development.

This is a great program.

Thank you very much. The success of the MusicMagic Movement is perhaps also based on the symbiosis that the accompanying arts, by strengthening each other, can express the magic of music even more, and thus hide even more miracles together, and I really, really like it when the children come to the international piano duet competition, whether they bring a drawing or a literary work, what feelings they had while practicing the piece, what takes place even behind their closed eyelashes when they practice, so in general, what each piano piece means to them. And it's a fantastic thing when children's imagination and fantasy start to soar, and that closed world suddenly opens up and they start flying with music. Being able to sit down to play an instrument can make one's life extremely rich. They can share their sorrow and their joy there, and that is a wonderful thing, for example, if they play music with their children on Christmas Eve, they sing, and they accompany them on the piano, for example. In addition, it is a great pleasure for me that the excellences of the musical life joined the MusicMagic Movement with the greatest joy: artists awarded with Kossuth Prize, members of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, and as my duet partners it is also a great joy to play music with them, but I am equally happy to do it with music academy students who, let's say they take part in my courses, or of course mainly with my middle child, my daughter, Lili Farkas, and the audience really likes the mother-daughter symbiosis and the message that you can definitely sit down and play together with your parents, and this was the inspiration for the fact that there was already such a category at the last piano duet competition, the parent-child category, and it even had a result that they said that since then they talk much more with their teenage children, some as lawyers, some as businessmen, they said that, for example, because of this category, they sat down to the piano again after 20 years, and they really like to play music with their child. We played with Lili at the opening concert of Kaposvár International Piano Duet Competition, and a little girl came up and said that I'm going to go home to my mom and tell her to enroll in the music school, and then we'll just play the piano together.

And of course, not only the piano competition justifies the right to exist of MusicMagic, but also the many, many concerts, because I think that for an artist, hearing that the children say that they will not turn off the radio button and give classical music a chance, or when I see the joy in their eyes, that wow, I know this piece, and I didn't even know, let's say it's Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King, because they think it's a phone ringtone, so it's a great joy that at least I could be its ambassador and fulfill the mission of opening this wonderland to them so that they have the courage to enter.

I always say that MusicMagic is my fourth child. I am very grateful to God for giving me three wonderful children, but MusicMagic is the embodiment of the dream I dreamed of as a very small girl, and that is why I wanted to be a pianist. And it's so good to hear that it's now being apostrophized many times that Music Magic really is a success story. But I always say that this would not have been possible without a community. I used to mention the words of Csaba Böjte, who once told me that you know that if you don't believe in good people, then start doing something good. You will see how many people will stand by you. There were pitfalls, there were frustrations, but somehow the road was so smooth, and many times they held my hand, stood by my side, and together with my colleagues, my fellow artists, we wanted to create something like a miracle, and the combined power is indeed capable of overcoming all obstacles, and now it's good to be happy about this result together, that more and more people are following this example, and it's very honorable to feel that you know I graduated in Germany, in Munich and Dortmund, and that they are watching my work, and I would like to plant the seeds of this somehow there as well, and I would like to tell you how - as we said before - MusicMagic became a success story either in Hungary or in the areas beyond the border, Transcarpathia, Transylvania, and now we hope that it will be in Munich as well.

Where does the name MusicMagic come from?

MusicMagic had a predecessor, MusicImagination, and these two names rhyme very well, because at that time the focus was on the tours to attract the children's attention, so that their imaginations would start. And then it became MusicMagic, because now they come and do magic for us. Well, that would be it in a nutshell, and I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of things, but why did I dream up MusicMagic. Why did you dream about Soundrose, Balázs?

I wanted to create an environment where young people, or even older people, can get to know classical music more informally and freely, while at the same time trying to incorporate the advantages typical of music schools..

And how did you come up with the idea, Balázs? So why would you want to, where did that motivation come from?

Precisely because of the freedom, because I think that for many people, less constraints are the charm of music.

I think that this is an important key phrase and an advantage in freedom is that time is a very important factor. There are so many possibilities for a child today, any field of study, any occupation, and I think that in our childhood, the fact that we went to music school three times was possible. However, in the 21th century, you really have to save your time in addition to studying a lot, and it's a fantastic thing that you allow him to devote, say, one afternoon to music, but in an absolutely concentrated way.

I definitely think it's important that, in addition to more informal music sessions, productions are created because these are milestones in development, and it's great to look back on them in retrospect. That's why we organize a student concert every semester, where students - both children and adults - show their skills.

We had a great honor in December, as Andrea agreed to be our guest at this concert, and now I'm asking you how you felt at this student concert.

Well, great. So the truth is that I really want to thank you for this as many times as possible, because it was really a nice gift, and we just came home from Transylvania, so there was a big tour in Székelyföld, and it took a lot of physical effort to drive home for 10 hours, but when I saw those many shining pairs of eyes and that eager anticipation, then you really get such energy that you can move mountains, and the truth is that we prepared a rather large program, and the inspiration came in the middle of it, which works we play, what connects children and adults, and exactly what came to mind was that it was so kind that we placed such packages under the tree, that this concert was not about how fast we play the piano, and what great feats we are capable of, since then the artist comes to the fore, but we wanted the children and adult piano students to go home with messages in their hearts, and I am very happy that so many positive feedbacks have been received, even later, imagine, Balázs, the people sitting between the rows contacted me on Messenger, and it was very, very good for me, and I saw that you were forming a real community.

So it was a fantastic thing that, in addition to all the tiny, talented children, you also allowed those who couldn't participate in person, so their videos were published, we listened to the performances, and then the adults came and you played a duet with each student.

We proclaim that making music together is the best thing in the world. Watching out for each other and not walking the path of loneliness, and the fact that you sit down with them, spend time with them and be there for them as a full-fledged partner, and it was also very nice the way you listened to them, the way you helped them, you are a real support for the teacher-student couple, for example, at the piano competition, and I think it will be a lifetime experience not only for you, obviously for you, but also for the children. Playing music with a teacher and performing miracle pieces together, I thank you for being able to receive this as a gift, and I thought exactly how nice it is that the children could actually receive a gift at Christmas, and they gave us a present in the last days before Christmas, this was a really nice start to the holiday.

I also particularly liked the fact that you have not only children playing music, but also adults who return to what they started as children, and then maybe stopped for some reason, it could be a disappointment, it could be the lack of time, but now they feel like it again, and they are people with completely civil occupations, who are doing a job with great responsibility, now they dedicate 2-3 hours of their time every day, and they play together with you and shape a piece beautifully, simply, what really stood out to me is that they pay attention to the sound production, to the sophistication, to the fact that there is a start, a breathe, that practically music becomes a part of their lives, since I saw it from the gestures, I saw it from those aspirations, and it doesn't matter - it also had a very, very nice message - that even mistakes can happen, since a Christmas concert, or any student concert shouldn't be about perfectionism, but about the courage and the intention that they really want to play music, and really make the sacrifice that when the world has so much to offer, they sit next to the instrument and give their time and they really open their souls.

Then I really, really liked the fact that you play a solo at the end, because you show that it is possible to improve to this point, and for example this gesture of inviting an artist you respect to each of these big concerts, I was very happy to say yes, and you can always count on me in this way, because I think that this is the way to educate a music-loving and music-cultivating audience. I always emphasize that if we don't educate an audience that really likes classical music, then we won't be able to fill the rows of seats in, let's say, large concert halls, and here I saw exactly that they are waiting for the other's performance with great joy or their own with great excitement, but it's a fantastic thing for a lawyer or a doctor or a university student to sit down and practice and try to express themselves on their instrument. I thank you very much for this experience, and I really, really entrust you to this work, because obviously I heard the very beautiful Christmas concert here and was able to participate in it with great pleasure, but most of the work is not visible, and you included a lot of energy, a lot of dreams in this initiative, and it is truly exemplary, and what I saw there was that 15 people, let's say, really looked forward with the greatest joy and the greatest anticipation to being able to show their skills before Christmas, this will be an eternal experience for them, and the greatest Christmas present.

In addition to the students' production, I consider the teacher's presentation important because the teacher must not only show the way verbally, but must also show a personal example of both practicing and standing up. And I think that's how a teacher can be most authentic. I also thank Andrea and her lovely daughter, Lili, for accepting our invitation, and we were very happy to have you as our guests. We received a lot of positive feedback about the joint performance of MusicMagic and Soundrose, both the students and the other members of the audience were moved by this performance, and we think that we gave them a very great Christmas present.

Thank you very much, and it was really a great pleasure for us to receive so much feedback, but the idea that we owe you, Balázs, was a particularly great gift, because the fact that the audience could also hear a six-hand performance was perhaps the sparkler or the top decoration, but it was so beautiful when the three of us sat there, and we really put an end to this beautiful concert with the music by Rachmaninoff, and it also had such a symbolic meaning that even three people can fit at the piano, if we look in the same direction, and we already turn back to the first sentence of our interview, that we are on the same path, and that the mission of both of us is to "Let music be for everyone", as Zoltán Kodály said.

I admit, I was a little nervous about how this six-hand performance would be seen, because we were very busy preparing for the concert, and Andrea was also busy with the concerts of the MusicMagic, and we found half an hour the previous week, when we were able to come here to the Steinway & Sons showroom thanks to Opera Zongoraterem, and we got to try out that piano and play this Rachmaninoff waltz on that piano that we ended up taking on stage.

I told you that you don't need to worry, because I think that if people's heart beats together, it will surely be a miracle, everyone has learned their own part, and then I think that you also experienced that we sat down to the instrument, and the miracle happened at the first moment, and I was very happy that we were really thinking in the same direction musically, and that everyone was an equal partner, I really enjoyed that Lili also had a say, you also said, and sitting in the middle, I summed up how this piece would sound, and it was really a great success, and maybe with this we also inspired the children studying with you to play definitely more four-hand or even six-hand pieces, because creating magic together, as happened at this concert, is truly a Christmas miracle.

Thank you very much for the interview and for being with us at the concert, I am sure that we will work together again.

I also thank you very much, and this was indeed a nice upbeat to the new year, let me take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year full of joy, success, blessings, rich in music.

Likewise, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!