iFAQ – infrequently asked questions

Is it really true about the bananas?

Oliver Schnyder: Yes!

Circumstances under which you would stop a public performance or a concert?

If everyone in the audience walked out simultaneously.

Different places, different audiences?

My favourite audience would be warm like the Americans, educated like the Germans and Russians, enthusiastic like the South Americans and disciplined like the Japanese.

Your favourite note on the keyboard?

The standard pitch.

Which is your favourite interval?

The tritone – the Diabolis in musica… wonderfully un-Papal.

You're banished on a deserted island where you only have an accordion. Will you play it?

I like the accordion.

You're very angry and try to calm down at the piano. What will you play?

I improvise freely on themes of Scelsi.

You're sick and have to play a concert. You have to cough, to pee, you've got diarrhea etc. What do you do?

I've already gone through all of that.

The page turner smells of garlic, sweat or else. What do you do?

Breathe through my mouth.

Your violin duo partner sits at the piano for an encore and starts playing a piano sonata. What's your reaction?

Unfortunately, I don't play the violin!

Can you be bribed?

It depends.

Would you perform naked in front of an audience if you would be payed one grand?

No – but maybe for two! I always feel naked on stage anyway.

A well-known musician stopped playing and repeated the whole movement from the beginning after snubbing the audience: "Everybody cough right now please!" What would it take for you to react the same way?

I would consider the disquietness to be my own mistake. Obviously, my performance is not interesting enough. A coughing audience comes from utter boredom in most of the cases. And even if it was noisy, I would never do such a thing like snubbing the listeners. It's an affront. I make my living out of people who want to listen to me play and I owe them my due respect. Sometimes it happens that a press photographer would walk around to take his pictures, which can be a pain in the neck. One time, while performing a Beethoven Concerto, I showed my third finger to one of these guys after the development section.

What's your reaction if the conductor starts the movement too slow?

That happens quite often. Sometimes I adjust my tempo, because it appears convincing, but in most cases we finish at my tempo.

Are there musicians you don't play with?

Yes – many. But also those who don't play with me.

Are you able to transfer colours into music?

No. Why?

Does music put you at ease when you're sad?

No – but it makes the sadness sweet.

What do you play when you're sad?

E.g. I would play Beethoven op. 10/3, 2nd movement, Schumann's "Träumerei", Mozart's Adagio KV 540, Bach's 2nd movement from the Italian Concerto, Schubert's 2nd movements D. 960 oder 664, Lionel Richie's "Hello" and Paul McCartney's "The Long and Winding Road".

Are you a political musician?

Yes, basically. I sit in the middle, very often, my left hand gets in the way of my right. And vice versa.

Did your piano ever bite you?

Yes – in its own way. Results: Steamrolled toes, cut off finger nails and close to chopped off wrists.

What would you do if during a concert a dog did an act of urination at your piano?

A press release to "Animal Today", so we can exploit our PR synergies.

Do you suffer from bacteriophobia? Do you clean the keys before the concert?

Rather a pianotuner-o-phobia, if he hasn't done it before.

Do you get nervous if a very good pianist sits in the audience?

Sometimes, yes. But then I realise that he or she is the only one to know how difficult it is to do this job!

Do you sometimes play for anybody particular?

Yes, always.

Why do you dress so conventionally for concerts?

I'm not a fashion guy. And I don't have a desire to make statements by how I dress. I want to make my statements by means of music.


Official Site of pianist Oliver Schnyder