Yevgeny Yehudin

Principal Clarinet
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

An Interview with Yevgeny Yehudin

What is music for you?

Music for me is the ultimate language of the soul. Because we are influenced and experience the music emotionally and often with great dominant force, the experience of hearing a concert, in my opinion – is a spiritual experience between the musician and the audience, a connection with no intermediary, which strums the fine threads of the soul. I believe that a good performance creates a sense of inspiration in the audience, creating a transformation which naturally increases every time into different stages of acceptance and change. I believe in art as a path to inner change, a path in which to transform the creative side, and I would even say, the aliveness – of the person. Art is an attempt to awaken the sixth sense in which exists a spark of the creation, the soul. Within the complex and all-encompassing daily life in the world, a life which is ruled mostly by ego, power, money and materialism, a window to a different world is opened, a world which is nurtured by the spiritual. Music as a creative act is close to the higher spheres, where what is important is not to conquer in a material way but to enlighten the spiritual side. This is the reason, in my opinion, for the meeting between musicians and audience.

And according to, or to be more specific, with the inspiration of what you just said, how do you grasp the great composers of classical music?

The great composers, such as Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert – they all have the connection which I spoke about. With their talent and with the power of their creativity, their music is used to this day as a medium which influences human beings in a spiritual and emotional way. I believe that the music which they composed is a form of miracle. This music was not only written from a knowledge of melody/harmony/perception of the mysteries of music, but because it was within them, they “heard the music” in their heads and composed it.

And modern music?

In my point of view modern music, in many cases, does not create the same purifying action. It is not music for the soul. Modern music is rational; many times it can be even described as intellectual. It is not a form of expression that connects to the listener’s emotional side, but sometimes it does have an element that connects us with the person who created it, the rational element. At the same time, pop music, has the ability and the quality to activate our bodies and again, in a spontaneous, alive way, but it does not purify, it is only the conquered and the conqueror. Pop music frees you, but is never fulfilling.

Do you think that the ability to listen to classical music is the result of education from childhood or that a certain time arrives in our lives as adults, when we are more open to accepting classical music?

I think that beyond the education and habits that we develop because of the environment we grow up in, and this is true with all kinds of music – the ability to listen to classical music, to internalize its spiritual qualities, to experience what I spoke about, I find that this process usually takes place closer to the age of forty and older. This is a stage in life when we are more relaxed from the pressure to establish a career and make money, to have power and show that we are the best. At this stage our bodies weaken a bit, the physical side of things is less important than the spiritual side. We look for the way to fill our souls. I feel that until the age of forty I placed great importance on performance. I stressed the level of perfect performance in an inflexible way. Today, I stress the level of whole performance. Of course there is extra emphasis on the technical aspects, but in my view, the ability to awaken a place in the hearts of the audience, the ability to give – that is the reason I play. The act, the spiritual ritual that takes place between me and the audience is ten times more important than any analysis. In an almost paradoxical way, for those who are in the beginning of their paths as a musician, the ability to establish a connection with the audience without an intermediary is what in the end creates the wholeness. Paradoxically, because you cannot be an excellent musician without technical excellence, you cannot be a valued musician without spiritual capacity. But you also cannot leave out any steps on the way, just like in any other part of life. In playing too, the readiness and the relationship which develops between the physical and the spiritual creates the wholeness. The place where the relationship between the ego and the soul changes, that also at a young age, a good musician is a musician who “plays from the soul”. The metamorphosis whose source is the path between being a young artist to being a mature artist, the inner process I went through as an artist, has influenced my playing. When we are young there are many times that we emphasize ourselves as achievers, which includes our own virtuosity, the musical interpretation we give to a certain musical piece and the way we blow up our egos. As mature musicians, we understand that it is the music that is in the spotlight and not the musician.