Ahead of his performance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday 28 February, superstar violinist Maxim Vengerov spoke about his lucky charm, his daily routine and his pyjamas.
What is your daily routine?
Unlike normal people who go to work 9-5, five days a week, I don’t have this structure because I am always travelling. I don’t have a daily routine except I wake up, I prepare myself, I pack my bags, I take a flight, and then I unpack. Every morning is different and I think this is special. I like the unexpected.
On any given day, I practice when I have to practice, I have to make plans for my agenda, manage my music business – this all takes a lot of time.
I like to tune my body, because it is an instrument. I take a moment of reflection, 10-15 minutes, like meditation. I like to connect with the universe because we are particles of this space and if we, for one or another reason, fall off the train tracks, we might take a different route by accident. I like to go with the flow, and I trust what happens in life. We each have our missions to accomplish and I want to trust fate and achieve every day what I have to. And that is what I take from my moment of reflection.
Aside from your violin, what do you carry with you everywhere you go?
I always carry my pyjamas! I’m quite particular about my pyjamas, sometimes I even carry them in my violin case. As I travel a lot, some weeks I go without much needed sleep.
On a recent tour, I had a rehearsal, then a concert, then a new venue, then a rehearsal and another concert.
After one rehearsal I got into my pyjamas and had a rest in the dressing room and I felt very good afterwards, ready for the concert.
My pyjamas make me feel like I’m at home, wherever I might be. I sometimes wear them on a flight – they’re the best type of sleeping pill! They are my top tip for any frequent traveler.
What is your lucky charm?
I have a very special lucky charm that was given to me by my youngest daughter when she was 2. It’s a very lovely object showing four little angels and I always look at them before a concert.
What do you love about Melbourne?
I really look forward to working with MSO and I have known Managing Director Sophie Galaise for some time. The MSO is one of the best orchestras in the world and I cannot wait to perform in Hamer Hall.
The city itself is quite extraordinary – so colourful and there’s this big element of culture which makes it so interesting.
My wife is an art historian so we will go to the National Gallery of Victoria with our two daughters. The day after the concert we might take the kids to the zoo.
When you are not playing music, what do you do?
I love to spend time with my family and I have fantastic friends in almost every city that I go to. It’s very special to have so many really great friends, friends that I trust. Life is never lonely and it’s magical how much your friends and family can keep you excited and inspired.
Tell me about your violin:
My violin is a very special instrument. It was made by Antonio Stradivarius in a later period in his life – 1727. A lot of people talk about his ‘golden period’ in violin-making; however my violin was made in the later period when Stradivarius was in his 80s. This is when he built another model of the instrument that has a richer and deeper sound. It has the quality and sound of a cello. This instrument that I play is quite magical. It was once owned by the legendary French violin player, Rodolphe Kreutzer. I am very grateful that I can play this extraordinary instrument.
What is your favourite time of the day?
I was born to be an owl and now with less time in my day, mornings are such a fantastic time. It feels like you are newly born and you can get so much done. Of course, it’s so special watching the sun rise. You have the most purest energy and the things that you accomplish in the mornings are equally as good as when the sun sets.
Each time of the day has something magic to offer. So you just have to be open to each experience. It’s nice to have structure in the morning, especially when my children were born – this is when I really discovered the mornings! Before that I didn’t appreciate such an early start.
Kids are so grateful for anything they learn so you become a kid yourself! Every time they are amazed about something you rediscover something new for yourself.
In music, you also learn that. You can never take for granted anything that pops out of the box or the extraordinary, or the unexpected. Even if you play the same piece every day, you should be grateful and amazed by everything you love about it. It keeps you young and inspired.
Music is my life partner. Because of music I became a more sensitive person that has allowed me to be more sensitive to other people. Music forces you to listen to yourself and to others. In life, when I work hard I am more sensitive to other people’s opinion and needs. Life becomes a richer experience.