Double Bass / Leader

Bence Horváth

I started playing the cello at the age of 8, in Pápa. Why cello? It comes from my mother, who knew I would be a musician. “Look for the woman”–in this case, my mother. When I was entered in class seven, took me to the Secondary Grammar School of Music in Győr, where teachers advised to change to double bass. Thus, although I was a cellist in class eight in Pápa, each Monday I travelled to Győr by train to learn the double bass. 

I grew up in a conservative family, at least as far as arts are concerned. Besides Mike Oldfield, Abba, Stephen, the King, and Jesus Christ Superstar, there were only recordings of classical music at home. Then, following a summer folk camp with listening to Dolly Roll, I asked for their fresh album Eldoradoll for Christmas. Under the Christmas tree, I did find an album: Haydn's cello concerto in C major, presented by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and Miklós Perényi. I was disappointed, of course, I have not listened to that recording even up to today.
At that time, I still did not feel like becoming a musician, nor going to the academy–it just did not seem masculine for me. So I was not the least disappointed when I was told in school not having sufficient talent to become a musician.

During the conservatory years, in the music camp in Nyírbátor, I met violinist Kálmán Kostyál, who had me attend his chamber orchestra of students. It had such an effect on me that later, in my letter to the Liszt Academy during the acceptance, I wrote “One day, I’d like to be part of a chamber orchestra”. After starting the Academy, I still played in our small band, moreover, renamed as Frigyes Sándor Chamber Orchestra Kálmány Kostály started to look for our successors. We rehearsed three times a week, from 8 to 9.30 a.m. in the Óbuda Társaskör, we learned a lot of pieces and were able to accompany graduating musicians. As we were friend in the band, the mood during rehearsals and performances was always good. We lived all in a dormitory and thus had to get up early to arrive in Óbuda in time, but we didn’t bother, and were glad to perform every time. When I joined the Budapest Festival Orchestra, I couldn’t take part in the rehearsals any more, but a bit later the others moved abroad anyway.

I started at the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra in 2000, for the invitation of Kálmán Kostyál. I am lucky to have been able to play with the great János Rolla, György Lovas, and Mária Frank. Although I am not really a virtuoso bassist, I learned the sensibility and usage of the instrument needed for the chamber orchestra type sound.
What I really love in this setup, is that I am the only bassist. It may sound selfish, but it means a lot to me. Besides, my double bass is an old one: the wood resonates this way for several centuries now, having a mature sound with depth and resonance. When playing, I strive to create exceptional and round sounds. Sometimes it may be not be enough, but I think our orchestra can only be played through only this much with a smooth double bass like mine.
Other times, it is me who is too critical with the others. Being alone in my part and, sitting or standing, seeing over the whole band, sometimes I can frighten the others with my eyes. I think – partly because of the time spent together during the tours – we are part of each other’s lives and are responsible for the others. Thus, there are things that must be discussed. I am aware of creating too harsh boundaries, and I would be the first to end a chaotic situation during a rehearsal, but I can also acknowledge not being right.
A concert is a sacred event for me. For a performer, an event is the goal and the motivation for his choice of career. During rehearsals, we are getting prepared for the performance both mentally and physically. 

Perhaps I feel tired and depressed at the backstage before the concert, but when I enter the concert hall, it must be stopped to be able to “serve” the audience. Music and audience both inspire meg, and it is usually enough to create flow during the concert. After the performance, together with relief, huge amount of positive energy is released to delete the memory of struggle before.

(Notes by Sarolta Gálfi /