Aliona Puha

I was born in Moldova and grew up in a small town near the Dniester. My parents were great lovers of classical music – perhaps this also contributed to the fact that I started ballet dancing at five. It was one of my teachers who noticed my good musical hearing, and upon her suggestion, I enrolled in the local music school. Compared to how much I enjoyed ballet, even for the first time, the first tunes on the violin made me feel somewhat insecure. But perseverance has yielded good results! At the age of ten, I won the Moldavian National Violin Competition and a musical scholarship with it. However, for this, we had to move to the capital... My mum made this sacrifice, got a job and accompanied me there.

In Chisinau, things turned serious. One competition and one prize came after the other. It was often on the train where I would practise for the next competition. When I was fifteen, my teacher called me one night and told me that the Korean soloist was off sick, so I had to replace her and play the Rondo Capriccioso with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Even though I told him I hadn't played that pieace for over a year, he "reassured me" that I still had two more days to “get into shape”. Needless to say, my poor neighbours must have been rather fed up with Saint-Saëns' music...

Thanks to my teachers and a lot of hard work, I received the Prime Minister's recognition at the age of sixteen, meaning that I was given a violin as a gift. It was the first violin that I actually owned.

Later, I was admitted to the Minsk Music Academy in Belarus, and at the same time, I became a concertmaster at the Camerata Klaipeda in Lithuania, that is, I commuted for hours between the two countries to study and work. It was in the chamber orchestra where I realised that it was not enough "just" to play well: we need to open our ears and every cell of us to the others. Meanwhile, together with some other students, we founded a string quartet in Minsk and won several competitions. Our tours and successes forged a close friendship between us. In the final years of the university, I also had the opportunity to get a taste of academic teaching.

I had idolised Gidon Kremer and his music since I was a kid. I had listened to all of his albums to the point of squeaking, so I felt very lucky when I became a member of the Kremerata Baltica, which he founded and led. The ensemble travelled from continent to continent and performed at countless festivals. I met my clarinettist husband on a tour in Budapest when we played together with the great musicians of Concerto Budapest. In other words, it was love that brought me to Hungary. Later, we had the opportunity to work together in the orchestra as well. Our little boy is four years old now. He is my "Hungarian teacher" because I began to learn and pronounce Hungarian words and phrases together with him, and six months ago, I took the oath of citizenship.

I encountered the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra seven years ago at a joint concert in Vienna. Already then, I perceived them as an easy-going and friendly company, but today, when I can understand and speak their language, I am convinced of their amicability. They are not only talented but also great musicians and funny people– they welcomed me with friendship, for which I am incredibly grateful. Hungary is now my home. When I return from a tour, I feel like I'm coming home.

I am grateful to my teachers (Mikhail Prepelita, Liliana Rusu, Tamara Caftanat, Nadejda Kozlova, Nikolai és Galina Buinovskii, Eduard Kuchinskii) and my family for letting me come so far and always supporting me. Most of all, however, I am grateful to my mother, who gave the violin into my hands and taught me that music makes the world a better place. Although she is no longer with us, I know she watches over me from above, sits somewhere in the audience and hears me play at the concerts.

(Notes by Sarolta Gálfi /