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"BERLIN: NO OTHER CITY MAKES ME FEEL SO FREE"

The Berliner by choice Pietro Massa takes position with unusual programs (by Arnt Cobbers)

Published in:
CONCERTI (DAS BERLINER MUSILEBEN)

There were two experiences in quick succession, which led Pietro Massa to become a pianist and not a musicologist.

He studied both, plus classics and composition, in his hometown Milan and in Paris. Then, he came, as he was 26-year old, to Berlin and received his doctorate at the Free University on "Carl Orff antiques dramas and Hölderlin reception in postwar Germany". Two days after his defense - Massa had an offer to go to an American university - he gave a concert in Istanbul. The conductor asked me after the concert to his room and told me: 'Pietro, a professor you have financial security, but you'll lose the fire to practice after a few years. What do you really want?' And I answered: 'I want to play'!.

Three days later, he played in Astana in Kazakhstan Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto: with a Russian conductor, a Russian orchestra and in front of the Russian audience: 'I was very tense, but it was wonderful. After the concerts during the official dinner, the concertmaster stood up and said: 'We have never heard Rachmaninoff so elegant played and full of culture!'.

Whether that was true or not - that was the moment I said goodbye to the academic career. I needed a confirmation. I landed in Berlin as a different person. And I have canceled the job in the US."

It was several years ago and Massa has no doubt that the decision was right. "It's difficult, but I like the challenges that the music and the career provide me every day. A small victory in the music compensates for ten defeats."

Pietro Massa has never lacked at courage. Otherwise, he would not have come to Berlin in 1999, without to be able to speak a word of German.

"The home country for me is not the place where one has born, but where one can express himself in freedom. I had a feeling that this place was not Italy. I felt the need to find a new home. And Berlin was for me a free ground, a white sheet. I wanted to read Hölderlin, Goethe, Thomas Mann in the original and to learn the language of Beethoven, Schumann and Bach. Unfortunaley, it didn't help me to understand better the German music!" he says and laughs.

Massa is a highly educated intellectual, but in his play you can hear that the emotional access to him is at least so important. He has acquired in recent years by the Italian repertoire great merits: he brought Busoni's Piano Concerto again in the Schedule, he discovered Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Second Piano Concerto, which was considered lost, in an archive in Philadelphia and recorded several CDs with works by Martucci, Zandonai, Petrassi, Dallapiccola. "The main danger of our society is the leveling in thinking and feeling. Everything, which puts new accents, is for me a kind of sincere democratic resistance. I feel an obligation towards this music, these are absolute masterpieces."

"After dealing with the unknown works, one sees the main repertoire again with different eyes. You can understand how important these works are. That's why this change is so important."

He wants to remain faithful to Berlin: "I would like very much to experience a winter in Venice and a spring in Lisbon, but in any city in the world I feel as free as in Berlin. To say goodbye to Berlin seems to me inconceivable."

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