The Clara Haskil International Festival, a gesture of reverence to the legendary pianist
The Clara Haskil International Festival, a gesture of reverence to the legendary pianist

The Clara Haskil Classical Music International Festival, the first international Festival to honor the memory of the legendary Romanian pianist Clara Haskil was founded in 2014 in Sibiu, one of the most beautiful Romanian cities, former European Cultural Capital, a city renowned for its cultural effervescence.

 

Harmony, superb interpretation, passion and unconditional love for classical music.

These are just some of the qualities Clara Haskil proved countless times, qualities which this festival desires to share with the public. This is the reason why, from the first edition, the Clara Haskil Classical Music International Festival brings together musicians from all over the world, famous names that set the tone on the classical music international scene: this year’s edition brings to Sibiu artists from France, Hungary, Switzerland, as well as from Romania.

The pianist Alina Azario was the initiator of the Clara Haskil International Festival: in a time when young people tend to leave the country, a Romanian pianist with a flourishing international career wanted to bring back home a symbol – in a gesture of appreciation dedicated to one of the most talented pianists of Romanian origin of all time: Clara Haskil.
Clara Haskil, characterized by Charlie Chaplin as „a genius”, marked the history of international classical music across a century and still remains a master of the search of perfection, of high quality interpretation and unconditional love for classical music. Her interpretations of Mozart and Schubert are legendary.

Born in Bucharest, on 7 January 1895, Clara Haskil perfected her skills in Paris and later performed alongside prestigious musicians such as conductor Herbert von Karajan or pianist Dinu Lipatti, who would later become her close friend. In 1942, the pianist settled in Vevey, Switzerland. Today, as a sign of appreciation, one of the most important classical music competitions in the world, that takes place in Vevey and has a tradition of over 50 years, bears her name: The Clara Haskil International Piano Competition. 

The Clara Haskil International Festival is the place of not only recitals and incredible concerts, but also of an art exhibit dedicated to Clara Haskil.

Clara Haskil’s genius would be noticed from the very beginning.

A few days ago a Romanian doctor came to me, holding a 7 year old girl by her hand. She is a prodigy: she has never studied music at school, but nor did she have to, as she perfectly reproduces by heart with those tiny hands everything that is being played to her; moreover, she can play in any tone. I gave her a rather simple sonata by Beethoven; she deciphered it perfectly, with no hesitation. We are definitely puzzled: such a wonderful maturity in a child is indeed thrilling.” – this is how Anton Door, Haskil’s first piano teacher describes his first encounter with the pianist in the book „Clara Haski” (1987), by Jerome Spycket. 

Some of the most influential musicians of all times appreciated Clara Haskil’s talent.
„In an era in which the world does not lack prestigious pianists, I have always wondered what lies behind Clara Haskil’s unique interpretation. Hearing her perform a Mozart or Beethoven concerto would make you feel that everything fell into place: tempos, keys, phrasings – this made redundant any prior discussion between the conductor and the artist, any planning, because the dialogue was so natural. Even the orchestra, always so careful about the relationship between the conductor and the soloist was amazed by her talent from the first rehearsal and was obviously honored to accompany her.” – wrote conductor Herbert von Karajan in the preface of Jerome Spycket’s book. 

„Listening to her perform Mozart makes you realize how far from the truth the rest of us really are.” – Dinu Lipatti

Clara Haskil enriched us not only with an exceptional musical legacy, but also with an unique profound testimony about the fragility of the artist, about devotion and respect for music and for the audience.

The pianist was highly auto critical and suffered from „a violent stage fright” before every concert. Appreciated worldwide by critics and musicians, Clara Haskil reached her true glory, that of the audience, only at the age of 55.
The Clara Haskil International Festival wishes to bring together international musicians and Romanian artists on the stage of Thalia Hall in Sibiu (Romania) and to offer the public a kind of emotion which can only be felt in the intimacy of the concert hall, in a direct dialogue between the artist and the audience.

Famous institutions support this: The Clara Haskil International Foundation (Switzerland), the Swiss Embassy in Romania, the Israel Embassy in Romania and the French Institute. 
With passion and diligence, Clara Haskil showed us that an artist needs their audience as much as the audience needs the artist. 

It is through people that music carries on. 

This text was translated in English for the website by Irina Stoica.