Viola / Leader

Ilona Németh-Izsák

I was born in the Soviet Union, in a small town near Lemberg. My parents met at the university of Lemberg, my mother is of Ukrainian origin, my father is Hungarian, from Transcarpathia. My sister started playing the violin encouraged by our uncle; this inspired me to learn it, too. Until I reached the age for music school, Olga taught me at home. Later, the Slavic method of teaching music contributed to maintain my enthusiasm: we did not start with plucking, as here, in Hungary, but got a bow at once, which was a great experience for me.

I was ten when we moved to Transcarpathia, to my grandmother. It was there that I frequented a Hungarian school and learned Hungarian. I remember when we had to learn the Hymn; I learnt it word by word as if it were Chinese–I did not understand a word of it.
I was still at the music school of Berehovo when my sister from the conservatory of Budapest brought me a cassette. Although I knew the violin pieces taught at music school, hearing the violin concerts of Mendelssohn and the Chaccone of Bach I new world opened up for me. I was sure about playing the violin. A wanted to play all, possibly at once. I attended both the Béla Bartók Conservatory and the Liszt Academy–the latter as a violist. In the meantime, I spent a year at the university of Munich: there, I was recreated as a musician.

Both my sister and me were attending the Liszt Academy when my sister decided to go to Madrid to study. After that, I grew more and more sick, from month to month. I did not understand what was happening to me. Finally, on a November day, it occurred to me that until then we had lived as twins, and as she was far away, I did not see what my aim in this world is.

My teacher from secondary school, Vera Czettner, wife of Misi Várnagy, recommended me to the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra.  
In November 2018, a new are started in my life: my son was born.
Since I became a mother, I have been wondering how long classical music can live on in this form? How can we involve young people?

One thing is for certain: as shamans used to do with their drums, we are also wizards with our instruments, connecting people with higher forces, feelings, and sensations. This is our task.

(Notes by Sarolta Gálfi /