Beethoven is the composer that has touched me the most out of all composers.

Lisa Batiashvili

We caught up with Lisa Batiashvili about what initially attracted her to the violin in her early years and the significance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music, ahead of her concert with the Orchestra next week.

When did you first start learning the violin, and why? What do you love most about your instrument?

What I loved about the violin when I was young was that it was a small instrument that grew together with me. Each time I grew, I could have a bigger instrument, and I could take it with me everywhere. Since I was raised in a family where my father played in a string quartet and a string quartet has two violins, it also was an instrument that was so refined and perfect for this kind of chamber music. So that’s why I fell in love with it right in the beginning.

Are there any violin icons of the past or present that you particularly admire?

There are so many different kinds of violinists in the world today and also in the decades before. I think it is an instrument whose possibilities we are still discovering with a new generation to come. Of course, I was raised by listening to musicians like Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrach, Nathan Milstein and also Anne-Sophie Mutter. And today, I think that there is another whole generation of violinists that inspire the world, like Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos and also someone like Thomas Zehetmair, who I’ve been admiring for his incredibly refined musicianship and the way he plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,

What does Ludwig van Beethoven and his music mean to you personally?

Beethoven is the composer that has touched me the most out of all composers. When I was a child, I heard his string quartets a lot and played some of his music at a young age, and he was the composer that made me cry. I could never really understand why, maybe because his music was also connected to a lot of personal pain and struggle, but also his diversity, his mindset. I would say he is a very meaningful composer, somebody who also reflects the human challenges and our history, someone who reports a lot about the fight and the victory and the fate of our humanity, and somebody we should really have with us as a reflection of our society still today and our history.

What are your favourite moments in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto?

His violin concerto is written in a time when he was writing more light and more peaceful works rather than fighting works. It’s very poetic; it’s an incredibly tender, deep and loving piece, also joyful in the third movement. An incredible challenge for the violinist, because it’s also technically very tricky for the intonation, because it’s so pure at the same time. I feel like I’m dancing and caressing the orchestra, which is underneath, and in the tuttis, it actually becomes very symphonic, but in the places where the violin solo is playing, the orchestra is like a carpet and you have to almost fly on it rather than, you know, sit on it!

And finally, what three Beethoven pieces would you recommend to those reading?

If I had to choose three of Beethoven’s works to take with me, it would probably be Piano Concerto No. 4, maybe the Symphony No. 7 and one of the late string quartets, maybe No. 14, because it’s the beginning of the fundamental shift that this music gives to the music of the 20th century.

London Symphony Orchestra