Behind the piano: Felix Reuter

Behind the piano: Felix Reuter

A while back I posted about the track Petite Sonate Pathétique – Part II by the German composer, pianist and music comedian Felix Reuter. And today we’ll get to know the man behind the piano!

Where are you from? And where do you live?
I live in the middle of Germany, in the federal state of Thuringia (Thüringen). I grew up in Jena and today I live in Weimar which is just nearby. 

How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I’ve been playing the piano since I was seven years old. Before, I learned to play the recorder – with a strict teacher: my mother! During my studies at the “Franz Liszt Academy of Music” in Weimar I got acquainted with jazz harmonics which inspired me a lot. For several years I played in different bands: jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and pop music. I needed to keep this a secret in front of my professor: She was quite severe and argued that this music would ruin my touch for playing classical music. Later I studied playing the church organ which I also enjoyed pretty much.

Tell us about how you started playing music. 
When I was a kid, my father, an organist, would have us listen to the radio and ask over and over: “So, who do you think composed this piece?” We were many children and would guess together, so we learned to distinguish between different musical eras by ear. Our father stimulated my curiosity so much that I was eager to learn to play the piano.

Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I grew up with music and composing. I invented melodies early and got composition lessons at the age of 9, so it was rather a flowing development than linked to some certain “turning point”. Today, as a pianist, I have been giving cabaret piano concerts for several years. It has become my true specialty to improvise over classical music, playing with a variety of musical genres. E. g. I perform Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” in a rock’n’roll way, or Beethoven’s famous piano sonata “Pathétique” in the style of modern pop music. In this way, I interact both with the old masters and with my audience. That is a lot of fun to me. 

What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
My favourite composers are certain romantic ones: Edvard Grieg, Sergej Rachmaninov, Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner

Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Not precisely. When I sit down at the piano, I usually improvise and play just the way I feel: sometimes excited or temperamental, but sometimes also very calm and quietly. Rarely, I play compositions by others.

What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think there are hardly any rules these days. Many compose as well as their computer software allows them to, and some still master the feeling and the actual technique of composing – and this, you can hear and tell either.

How do you record your music?
For the recordings I have been to different studios, all of them featuring a grand piano, a lot of microphones and someone able to operate all of this perfectly. Some of the productions also included a camera team and were documented. Lately, I have been recording in a studio in Hamburg – also for my latest EP “Petite Sonate Pathétique”.

Whats your take on sampled instruments?
Well, there are many stunning sounds I really like. But you need to be careful – just the same you find very coarse samples that I would not recommend using. You can hear the differences between a good and a bad sample particularly well when it comes to wind instruments.

Anything else you want to share? 
I am happy that you are interested and curious about my music. This year, music lovers celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary and I reckon some more artists are going to release fresh reinterpretations of the composer’s pieces or music inspired by Beethoven. Sadly, now during the restrictions against the spread of Covid-19, artists all around the globe cannot perform normally, but I strongly hope that this will be possible again soon.

The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from? 

The pieces and songs on which I am working have often come to my mind already some time ago. I have played them on stages in the same or in a similar way and eventually I have written them down so that I do not forget them. But sometimes it also happens that I think of something when I’m out for a walk, taking a shower or driving in my car. Then I need to write my idea down quickly and only later I decide whether I really like the idea – if not, the note goes straight to the recycle bin. 

Thank you Felix for your participation!

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