Budapest Festival Orchestra
Interviews September 11, 2019

“We inspire each other” – interview with Nora Fischer

What was her dream as a teenager? Is it an advantage or a disadvantage if someone's father is a world famous conductor? How does old and modern music fit and how does it feel to stand on that bridge? Nora Fischer and his father, Iván Fischer will have a joint performance with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Bridging Europe festival on 22&23 September. We made an interview with Nora Fischer while she was at BBC Proms.

When I was listening to Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs that you are going to sing with the Budapest Festival Orchestra soon, I had the feeling that they were written definitely for you, which of course cannot be the case, since he wrote this composition in 1964. Do you feel the same?

Nora Fischer: Maybe, yes. These songs give you a really natural feeling. I always loved to sing folk music as it has natural roots, and that is so close to me. But not only Berio is close to me, but I have a special affection to every kind of music offering a meeting point of folk music and classical compositions. That’s why I also love to sing Bartók compositions filled with folk elements. Berio’s Folk Songs have a very simple melody, they are pure and clear and the composer made a brilliant arrangement with using them, so he could get the very best of both worlds. Beautiful melodies and very high-level creative compositions. It is a wonderful bridge between these two worlds, and I love to be right on the bridge!

You like building bridges anyway, that’s what I learned from the music you make. Like when you combine Purcell’s music with modern jazz in the "Hush" production with Marnix Doresstein’s guitar music.

N. F.: Yes, that is true. I love to sing early music and I do it a lot accompanied with a lute or a bass. However, I am also wondering what kind of music these composers would make these days. Probably it would sound very different. So, I had the idea to look at these songs with the eye of the pop musicians of our days and recreate them with the feeling of today. So many people of my age don’t know any of that kind of music and I am sure they would love it. All what they need is a bit of a different language.

Are you still actively experimenting with this?

N. F.: I still do this, and I also do classical music very often. One is not better than the other. It’s just two different approaches. I like both of them, and people can pick their favorites. Of course, I don’t tell them that this is the way of listening to early music, it is only an idea.

Who used to sing to you when you were a little girl? Your mother, Anneke Boeke, or your father, Iván Fischer?

N. F.: There wasn’t so much singing at home. My father had a few songs we were singing together, but most of the time he told stories before we went to sleep. And our mother did not sing too much either, when we were children.

When did you fall in love with singing?

N. F.: Much later. Only when I was fourteen. When my father was doing an opera production, Rusalka in the Lyon Opera House, I suddenly fell in love. There was this woman playing the main role and I said: this is what I want to do from now on.

Have you ever sang in any opera production?

N. F.: No, I haven’t. It was only a dream at that time. But later I realized that I was not so interested in opera singing. I don’t have that big voice and I also got interested in new music and the modern style very quickly. But Rusalka was the starting point, that’s for sure.

You are getting well-known in the musical world very fast. How do you feel about this?

N. F.: Well, I don’t know. I try not to think about this. But of course, times are changing. As I work in this very strange little field of contemporary classical music, it’s a tiny niche. But within that niche I am moving pretty well. There is a lot of traveling, it is exciting, but it’s also tiring. But I really like that. I absolutely don’t want to be a famous person. The good thing for me is that I am working with a very strange little group which I really like a lot.

This is not going to be the first time that you perform together with your father, who is really world famous. How do you relate to this?

N. F.: I didn’t want to work together with him for many years, because I wanted to do it by myself. I didn’t want to be a musician whom “daddy helped to the stage”. I wanted to do it out of my own strength and power. But a few years ago, when he started to compose and did a lot of new music, our worlds met. I started to sing his compositions and that was actually really nice. It was a kind of new meeting point for both of us. It worked really well. That was the time when I felt that I can do things by myself, so I was also open to work with my father. We both enjoyed it a lot. It was a big fun. Neither of us felt that we were using each other. In a way we speak the same language musically which means that we have a very natural musical relationship.

When you performed his compositions in Bruges and later in Budapest, one had the feeling that you are more like friends than father and daughter.

N. F.: It’s very rare that we work together. I don’t know too much about his current projects. But it is true that when we work together, I step out of my being his daughter, we rather work as colleagues. Lately we have become more and more interested in each other’s work. He became curious about what I am doing, he asks me a lot of questions, we have debates, so I feel that we are getting equal on the field of music. Actually, we inspire each other a lot.

This is great!

N. F.: Yes, but it took some time!