Gabriella Bali


I was in the second grade when my mom asked me which instrument I wanted to play. She and my younger brother played the piano and my older brother played the cello. I chose the piano, because I couldn’t imagine what I would do with the huge cello that my older brother, 10 years older than me, carried around to play. For some reason, my mother still suggested the cello, but I had no courage to say I wouldn’t play it. It was only on the first lesson that I realised that there were tiny children’s cello sizes in the world as well...

I loved going to the classes, and I never had problems with performing either. Even if I felt I could have practised a bit more – when I got onto the stage, something always told me to execute an idea, if necessary, relying on spontaneity. Awareness came much later, at that time I was simply going with the flow. I also attended ballet and rocky classes, but when I decided to go to high school in Budapest, to the Bartók Conservatory, it was also decided that my dance career would come to a halt and I would become a musician.

I have always felt the most inspired and creative when playing chamber music. In case of the solo pieces, many times a feeling came over me; the pure knowledge of how many others have played a particular piece before me and how many have perfected it, imposed limits on my performance. By now I know that this is not the best way to think, however, the thought that I am not alone when playing chamber music still gives me a sense of security and therefore courage.

I joined the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra last March, a month after my graduation, where I became an assistant first. The last year, therefore, can be considered my probationary period, and now, as a permanent member, I am the youngest musician in the orchestra. I always smile when I see the others arrive by car, while I am on my scooter. Other than such formalities I see no difference between us; I feel that as a musician, I’ve been treated as a partner from the very beginning.

It is good to live your life loving what you are doing and feeling good about going to the place where you work. I came to the conclusion that I must be in the right place, because every day I come here I am overjoyed. For me, it is a huge pleasure that our artistic director, while preserving the sound of the old Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra everyone knew and loved, is also open to new and more progressive things.

I don’t have favourite pieces. I prefer to think that any piece can become my favourite at any time. On the last concert, for example, we played Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross. This particular piece had not been very close to me before, but because of the work we carried out and the euphoric experience of the concert, it lives rather strong in me now. Any piece can surprise you with such experiences; no matter you are a musician or a member of the audience, you just have to slow down and be present in the moment. With this in mind, I think, the actual pieces we are playing will always be my favourites to some extent. That’s when I dare to dig a bit deeper and give the piece the time to start working in me.

My wish for myself is to never stop being inspired, and to never consider being here a job even if one day I will feel that I’ve actually achieved something. Since I’ve been a member of the orchestra, I walk out the door of the Óbudai Társaskör almost every day feeling my life became a bit rounder. I would love to keep it that way.

(Notes by Sarolta Gálfi /