Pavel Steidl was born in Rakovnik ( Czech Republic ). Since he won first prize at the Radio France International Competition in Paris , he has become one of the most widely celebrated soloists of his generation. His highly expressive performances of rare 19th-century guitar literature on authentic instruments add a wonderful dimension to his already exceptional performances. Pavel Steidl also composes himself and his own compositions are often played on his concerts.
There follows an extract taken from an interview he had with Jarka Halkova as part of the ‘One on One’ series for Radio Cz in November last year.
Jarka: My guest today is Pavel Steidl, a Czech guitarist who has been listed among the eight best guitarists in the world. He has performed in 30 countries with Mexico being his second favourite after his native Czech Republic . He returned to the country after many years of emigration in the Netherlands . He is always travelling around the world, but he feels at home in the little village of Skryje on the River Berounka. This is the river of his childhood, and from his exile, he always dreamed of coming home. I met him at his house and after he had explained his problems with chimney sweeps and finished cooking chicken soup he sat down and started playing.
"I wrote this for one girl in the Netherlands . She was my neighbour. Her name was Eugene she had very funny teeth. She was very funny, very nice. When I write music my first goal is not to write something original but more or less something that is nice and makes me happy. If something makes me happy I can make other people happy and that is very important in music."
Jarka: How do you choose the repertoire for your concerts?
Pavel: "I have periods in my life. When I was twenty or thirty I didn't play romantic music. It was too easy and too sweet for me. I played only contemporary music and J.S.Bach. But later I started to love romantic music and I started to play it on old instruments. I combined it with my own pieces. If I play pieces for a longer time I think I have to play something different and I am looking for new pieces."
Jarka: What is the most difficult piece to play?
Pavel: "Well it is a piece I cannot play yet. For example I play Bach's Chaconne. It is maybe one of the most beautiful pieces that were written for a solo instrument. It is growing with you. Every time I play it I play it differently because there are always new ideas."
Jarka: You started playing at the age of eight.
Pavel: “You start your music already when you start to sing. When you sing with your parents in a car it is more important than playing an instrument and then the moment when you hear an instrument from a radio and it touches you so deep that you say 'Oh my God I want to play it.' I remember that moment.”
Jarka: What was the breakthrough when everything changed?
Pavel: "One of the first invitations after everything had changed here was to come and play at a festival in the Czech Republic in Mikulov. These people helped me more than the best manager. They said to another people 'You should take this man for your concert or a festival.'"
Jarka: So you now play all around the world. Do you do anything else apart from that?
Pavel: "Cooking. [laughs] You say 'You just play concerts.' but it also means a lot of work on a computer, to write letters, prepare programmes, to combine flights. I've just spent 14 days in Mexico and Argentina . In fourteen days I spent five days on a plane. It makes me very, very angry because I just like to play a guitar I like to make music. You can of course practise in your brain. You can make a visualisation of the pieces that you play. As a musician you have to practise with notes and an instrument together, only with notes and only with instruments and without notes and without an instrument. That is really very nice."
Jarka: You practise long hours every day.
Pavel: "I remember ten hours but it doesn't make much sense. Very important is how deep you practise. It is very nice for me if I get to practise between three and five hours."
Jarka: What about composing?
Pavel: "Well, I am not really a composer that I want to make something original. I don't want to write many compositions. But if there is something nice I like to write it down to give it a form and to play it."
Jarka: What does a good musician have to have?
Pavel: "I don't know, I am not sure what a good guitarist should have but I know what he definitely should not have: a wife who is jealous of a guitar."