Interview with Ruggiero Ricci
This interview was given to R. Hattinger in august 2005 during the summer courses of Mr. Ricci
at the Mozarteum in Salzburg

 © Ruprecht Hattinger 2005.

For the reason of autenticity, the interview is reproduced literally, i.e. exactly in the wording of Mr Ricci.

 Ruggiero Ricci answers to the questions:

1. Musicians of major importance.
2. The major change in violin playing
3. The preferred composers
4. Greatest violinists of today
5. How to play Paganini
6. About teaching


Question: Mr. Ricci, we all admire your musical career, and my first question is: Which musicians were of greatest importance and Influence to your musical education and your musical life?

Well, many were of influence and you have to do a lot of listening. Of course there were my teachers but I also listened a lot to Kreisler, to Heifetz and you learn from listening. You have to do a lot of listening, you don't just learn out of yourself. When you can hear a violinist, that is better than you, then you learn from him, because if you play with somebody who is worse than you, then you go down.


So the main violinists, whom you named, are Kreisler and Heifetz and also your teachers.

Well, my teachers, yes, I listened to many, to records… I could tell you, how Ysaye played, I could tell you, how Kreisler played, also Szigeti, this is necessary. Every violinist has a different style, so it's important to be able to recognise their styles. You don't have to like everyone's style but you have to know these styles.


Question: What was the major change in violin playing between the 40th, the 1940, when your first records appeared and today. What are your remarks on that question?

Interview with Mr. RicciIt would be easier to say, what was the difference in style from many years ago. Many years ago, the old violinists, they also had a good technique, they were not tonally as good. Ysaye was a tonal violinist, and Kreisler. But you take Sevcik or Kubelik, they were not tonal violinists. Today it's much more difficult to pick out a player, because most of the young players play very similar in style, while before it was very easy to pick out a player like Szigeti, Kreisler or Heifetz. You could pick them out in a minute.
Today it's a mixture because in the old days you had a German school, a Franco-Belgian school you had the Russian school but today there are no more schools, same as in dance. You see, they all went to the States and Europe and it is all mixed. You cannot say any more, this is German style, or this is Franco- Belgian style. It is definitely more difficult to recognise a player today than it was 50 years ago when they hade more distinct styles.


Question: When we take all your recordings from say Paganini to Schubert, all these recordings are extraordinary. My question is: What was your preference, which composers did you like most?

I don't have favourites, I think, when you play, you have to be like a prostitute, you have to love the piece you are playing. Even if you don't like it, you have to play it as if you would like it. Then you are a good interpreter. A good interpreter can take a piece he doesn't like but he should not play it like he does not like it. Her should play it like he likes it.
A good interpreter can take a piece of bad music and make it sound pretty decent, while a bad interpreter can take good music and make it sound cheap. I can tell that some people have a bad taste, and unlike on the piano, they smear around a lot, that is bad taste.


Question: Who are great violinists of today and the upcoming time in your opinion?

Well, Hilary Hahn, she is very good, excellent, then Vadim Repin, also Vengerov is quite good, but those two, Hahn and Repin, I could name.


Question: I heard, that you are writing a book on the technical way of playing Paganini, especially regarding the left hand position. Is that book going to appear?

Ruggiero Ricci master classesOh yes, I have set it out. My theory is, that the technique has to be based on the glissando technique, on one finger, not on 1-2-3-4 but on 1-1-1-1. Because when you measure from one place to the next, you have to measure the distance.
With one finger you don't measure the distance, but with two fingers, when you put them down. If you go from a point "A" to point "B" you have to use your ear, right? If you use your finger, you are bypassing your ear. When playing scales it is important to practise them also with one finger, not always 1-2. It is ok to play 1-2, but you should know the same thing with 1-1 also. You only know this distance if you go with the same finger, if you go with the other finger, that's just putting your finger down, that means bypassing your ear.
 If you go with the same finger, you have to use your ear to know when to stop the finger.

I gave my book on "left hand technique" to a publisher, but I don't know, how many months it will take to appear. It is ready from my side.


Question: While listening to your master classes in Salzburg, I observed, that you are making many remarks on rhythm.

Well, rhythm is 90 percent of the interpretation. Colour does not make so much difference. Look at the Bach Chaconne: There is not one dynamic mark in the whole Bach Chaconne. Colours do not make so much difference.
Ruggiero Ricci master classes What really makes difference is rhythm.

What should teachers observe to improve that?

They should tell the kids to practice with the metronome. But they don't do it . Kids have metronomes but they don't use them. So they all play out of time. If you put a metronome, most of the time they can't stay with it.
So, first you have to be able to play with a metronome. Then you take your freedom. If you play in an orchestra, you got to watch the conductor, he is like a metronome, but it is more difficult because he can change rhythms.


What are further remarks besides rhythm on teaching here?

Of course the most difficult thing on the violin is always intonation. The second one is rhythm.

If you play in tune, in time and with a good sound that's already high level.

Those three are the main things.

Professor Ruggiero Ricci


 Thank you Mr. Ricci
 Salzburg, august 2005,
 ©Ruprecht Hattinger.

Interview with Ruggiero Ricci 2005

This interview was given to R. Hattinger in august 2005 during the summer courses of Mr. Ricci

Ruggiero Ricci