I write to Angelo Zanin, cellist of the Quartetto di Venezia, to ask if he is available to answer some questions. He willingly accepts and responds by e-mail. I would like to have the opportunity to meet him in person, but a thousand commitments force me to be content with a virtual contact.
When did you start playing and why did you choose the cello?
I started studying the cello after singing in the choir and playing the piano. A little late compared to my peers, that is to 14 years, but I came from a family where music was neither considered nor expected. So I think it was normal for me to have developed this desire and the need for this study a little later with age. I mean that I did not have the family support that many guys have (dad or mom musicians, the luck of having music at home since childhood and the desire to go to concerts and listen to records) and then I had to become aware of my attitude and be able to develop it. But this meant that immediately I had a clear awareness of my passion and determination in the study and sacrifice that the study of music requires, something that is not so obvious in many children, especially at that age.
Why the cello? … Maybe it was a bit ‘random … I studied piano. I had a neighbor who played the horn in the orchestra of La Fenice, parhaps the most important theatre of Venice, and he, knowing my passion, suggested me to study the cello … “So you can play the Bach’s Suites”. At the time I did not know the cello and much less I knew who Bach was, but this story intrigued me and so I went to a concert at La Fenice to see what a cello was. I was very impressed by the Symphony n. 40 by Mozart, by the Unfinished Symphony No. 8 by Schubert and by that row of cellists who played, sometimes accompanying and sometimes singing beautiful themes. I was enchanted by the color of that sound, warm, fascinating and sinuous, and at that moment I decided that the cello would be my instrument.
Which teachers were most decisive in your training and from what points of view?
I was lucky enough to have formidable teachers and I think this is one of the most important things for a guy who starts studying an instrument. And it’s also a very important thing in a music school … How many kids have been neglected and ruined by people who have nothing to do with the teacher figure! Teaching is not a profession suitable for everyone: it takes love, passion, dedication, willingness to sacrifice, as well as of course important instrumental skills …
My first Maestro was Aldo Pais, the first cello of the orchestra of La Fenice that made me discover Mozart and Schubert. He was very old, but he took me from the first lesson to the fifth year exam, giving me excellent bases, stimulating my love for music and making me discover many styles, in particular the twentieth century … I was very young for the technical possibilities that I had and he was pushing me to study Hindemith and Malipiero. I loved it. It was the grandfather I had never had, patient and good, never a bad word, never a loud voice. I was so fond of him and I always went to see him. Sometimes I made him feel something, Boccherini, on which he worked, and his studies … When I needed to talk, to ask for advice, he was always there. He helped me a lot and I owe him a lot.
I must tell this anecdote about my first teacher, because it always seemed very strange to me. In that year I studied the fourth volume of Stutschewsky’s studies. I knew I should soon start Duport’s studies and I was very excited about that idea. Knowing that only two studies of that volume were missing, one day I went to class and I told him: