Interview with Maria Kämmerling
When did you start playing the guitar and why?
I started play the piano when I was 8 years.The guitar came some years later,I think when I was 13 or 14 years but I knew that this was my instrument.At the conservatory in Köln I couldn´t just play guitar and piano,because you have to play a so called “melodic-instrument” as two instrument,when you have an “accord-instrument”as main instrument. So I decided to play violoncello as nr.2 instrument and I first tried both guitar,cello and piano. But three instruments were too much,so after a year or so I dropped the piano and continued with guitar and cello at the musicteacher seminar,where I got my diploma in 1969.
Then I continued my guitar studies in Vienna at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst where I got my soloist diploma in 1971.
What were and are your main musical influences?
You ask about my main influences. There was of course the conservatory in Köln where I studied from 1964 to 69 and there was Julian Bream,who was the greatest guitarist for me. Every new record of him opened at totally new guitar-world for me!
Listening to your discography I was suprised to see a sort of dicothomy: baroque guitar and contemporary guitar. It was like you “devided” yourself between contemporary and baroque music.. it is possible or it’s just an idea of mine?
I have always been very fascinated to both renæssance and baroque music and the totally new music. Imagine, I´ve studied 5 years in Köln,the center for Stockhausen and Kagel,and when I came to Denmark I thought that their music was not very exciting. The svedish-danish composer Axel Borup Jørgensen wrote 10 preludes for me,which I got my professor in Wien, Karl Scheit to publish at Universal Edition. But in fact it was first when I heard music of Gunnar Berg I thought “Yes, that’s the modern music, I know”.
You have played a lot with Leif Ramløv Svendsen.. how did start your musical relationship?
I always played a lot of chamber music you know about Sub Rosa and our connection with Per Nørgård.
Then I got connection to Leif Ramløv. In the first place I played my continuos (all of them homemade of course),on my modern guitar,but then myhusband Leif Christensen said:”You ought to play not modern guitar,but baroque guitar when you play continuo”. So I got a baroque guitar and there in fact I had the right instument!
Leif Ramløv and me had very active concert carreer here in Denmark. As you see, I had two Leifs: the right Leif (my husband and guitar-collegue) and the left Leif (the recorder player and very good concert-arrangeur-while he is a blind man).
By the way: I also teached in “continuo playing on the guitar” at the music academy in Århus. A very interesting issue which I loved to teach very much.
And after our terrible car crash my right Leif was dead and the left Leif wouldn´t play with me any more,because I wasn¨t perfect enough any more….and after some years I lost my job at the Conservatory, but a former student gave my some lessons of his own at musicschool here in the north-west part of Jutland. So I moved here to in 1999,and that was absolutly the right thing to do for me.
How was the “scene” about contemporary music when you started to play it?
You ask how it was to to work with the composer Per Nørgård. Oh, it was great. Our ensemble Sub Rosa played on old instruments.I played a theorbo ( because of its larger dimension and the sound), and all instrumentalists had to sing while playing. I think the result was good to hear the choir (instrumentalists) and the one real soprano (Bodil Gümoes) on the top.
The great danish composer Vagn Holmboe wrote three guitar sonatas for me. He knew the instrument I hadn´t to inform him about the instrument. And, since Vagn Holmboe was a recognized composer, his guitar-compositions was immediatly printed by the Wilhelm Hansen–edition.
You have met Gunnar Berg in in 1976, performing Per Nørgård’s “Nova Genitura”. What kind of man he was?
I think, the problem with Gunnar Berg was (and maybe still is) that Gunnar Berg is too great for the little danish country.You know,Gunnar was influenced by the Darmstadt-school ( and that was what I did recognize when I heard his music).
Talking about composers, Berio in his essay “A remembrance to the future,” he wrote: “.. A pianist who is a specialist about classical and romantic repertoire, and plays Beethoven and Chopin without knowing the music of the twentieth century, is also off as a pianist who is specialist about contemporary music and plays with hands and mind that have never been crossed in depth by Beethoven and Chopin. ” You played both traditional classical and contemporary repertoire … do you recognize yourself in these words?
You are right: I always have been most attracted by rennæsance- and baroque music and contemporary music. But I also mean that it´s important to have an open mind to all kind of music.
10-15 years ago I met the schweizer ensemble LaVolta in Germany. It´s a guitar- ensemble of musicschool students and with their leader,the lutenist Jürgen Hübscher (whom I know from germany) they are just as georgeously as possible.
I have arranged concert tournees for LA VOLTA here in Denmark 5 or 6 times., because they have the two most important things a musician has to have :enthusiasme for their music and the ability to pass it on to their listeners and the ability to play very well. They play concerts all over the world and they play all kind of innstruments of the guitar-family. I have a lot of their CDs but I´m sure you can get them yourselv. Just ask for LA VOLTA ,I´m sure you will enjoy their music!