SPECIAL FEATURE – Interview with Cellist Andreas Brantelid

Andreas Brantelid: When I was 15 or 16 I moved to Stockholm to study with Torleif Thedeen at Edsberg, and those were probably the best years in my life so far. I think I was there for three years, and not only Torleif, but the school were both fantastic.

String Visions: Edsberg is a castle?

Andreas Brantelid: Yes the school is located in a beautiful castle outside the city… sort of in the countryside, and you have a little lake right next to the castle, and it’s really this fairy tale kind of beautiful place, to study in such a place and to practice in those beautiful rooms in the castle every day, it’s really inspiring. I liked the concept of the school a lot. That’s also why I chose to study there. The school is designed for younger students and they have a lot of time for practicing which is so important in those formative years

String Visions: Yes I totally agree with that.

Andreas Brantelid: I think it’s a shame when people really want to practice – when they really need to develop their fundamentals – and then they are studying in a school where they don’t have time for practicing.

String Visions: Yes that can be a problem. It is important to develop a rock solid technique before the age of 18.

Andreas Brantelid: I agree with that and I’m so grateful that I had the time for that, not only practicing but just learning how to think and study.

String Visions: Your teacher in Stockholm, Torleif Thedeen, is a great cellist and has a wonderful reputation as a teacher. He has produced so many terrific cellists.

Andreas Brantelid: Yes he’s a wonderful teacher and a great cellist. Additionally, what is wonderful about him was that he is very flexible. He didn’t demand of us that we all play certain pieces or in a certain way. He didn’t force us to play really difficult stuff if we didn’t want to. Every student was so different from one another, and I remember when I went there that I had a goal and clear idea of what I wanted to learn and accomplish. Including how I wanted to play at that time and which pieces I wanted to study, and he really allowed me to do that.

String Visions: I totally agree with that philosophy because each person is unique and as a teacher you have to help develop that uniqueness in each person.

Actually, when I listen to your playing you have a fantastic classical style and a lot of variety in how you play and do everything. It’s incredible musically, and it’s perfect technically and stylistically. It is very seldom to hear such maturity in a young player.

After you were in Sweden, you went to study with Franst Helmersson in Germany?

Andreas Brantelid: Yes, at the Kronberg Academy, which actually reminds me a little bit of Edsberg. It’s a newly started school. It’s five or six years old, and I think that Frans Helmersson gave them a lot of information about Edsberg because he used to teach there.

Kronberg is a unique place because it’s designed for young people who already have a soloist career. I think a lot of young people in that situation have problems when they are studying in a big school which tends not to understand that these students already have their own concerts to play in, so they may not always be available to come to every lesson and rehearsal. In Kronberg, it’s almost like the students tell the school when they are free, which is wonderful.

String Visions: Yes, it is important early in a young musicians career to still have time to get inspiration and a solid influence from a great teacher. So I think it’s fantastic to have a school such as Kronberg. Could you tell us something about your studies at Kronberg with Frans Helmersson?

Andreas Brantelid: Well, it’s funny because Frans is the teacher of all my other teachers.

String Visions: Really?

Andreas Brantelid: Yes. My father studied with him; Mats studied with him; and Torleif also studied with him. Frans is a fantastic guy. When I came to him, he started to make me think in completely new ways. I think I was a very intuitive player when I came to him, and in a nice way he made me go in different directions, and if I have to describe his teaching, the thing that I probably learned the most from him was playing and thinking like a conductor. If you play a cello concerto or sonata, or really anything that you play like… how do I say… a little like a conductor, you develop a feeling of pulse and speaking in a way that people can understand. Not everything has to be organic all the time, but you start to gain a sense of how to communicate those ideas in a natural way in different settings… in a big hall, for example. It requires a lot of acting skills, and it is extremely important to be very assertive with what kind of impulses to give to an orchestra [or to whomever else you are playing with].

String Visions: Yes it is very important to really look at a score from the conductor’s point of view.

Andreas Brantelid: Exactly, that’s also something that I spent a lot of time on with Franz Helmerson.

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