Exclusive Interview with ‘Prince of Piano’ Maksim Mrvica

Finding out more about his passion


By Visakan Veerasamy, Photo credits to croatia.org

Hailed as “The finest pianist since Liszt ” by The Tokyo Times, Maksim’s charisma and image have earned him global appeal, and performances on stages varying from beauty pageants to the MTV awards, the Beijing Olympic Celebrations, and even CCTV’s New Year’s Eve Celebration TV show which was broadcast via satellite to over 250 million people Worldwide.

Welcome back Maksim! Is this your first time in Singapore?
No, no! I’ve been coming to Singapore for 9 years now. (laughs)

Why an album full of movie themes?
My manager and I thought, ‘Why don’t we do something completely different? I’m always open to exploring different boundaries of music, and my albums are always very connected to classical music. This was something completely different- a different approach- so we asked ourselves, ‘Are we brave enough?’, and I said yes, I was. It was challenging because we were using pieces which are so well known, like the Pirates of The Caribbean [theme]. People have heard it a million times, and a million versions, but I don’t think there’s a version in the piano crossover style. Which is my style. And I think it’s interesting for all my fans to hear what we did with it because it’s a completely different arrangement and approach!

Classical music isn’t always popular with everybody. How did you get into it, when surely most of your peers would have been listening to pop, mainstream music.
When I was younger I listened to everything- Duran Duran and bands like that. I wasn’t exclusively connected to classical music, but I just understood classical music and I enjoyed it so passionately. Most of my friends didn’t listen to classical music and they always asked me, ‘I don’t get it, why do you listen to this music?’ and then I said you don’t understand anything! The understanding of classical music, concerts, it’s so passionate, the levels of passion which you experience when listening! I always say to them, you should only be jealous! Because it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

What was you like when you were 18? How did you stay motivated and focused on your craft?
It wasn’t easy, you know. I never really liked to practice. I was very lazy, but talented… my teacher would say that I was misusing my talent. But I was passionate about performing live, so that kept me going. It was hard when my friends were playing football in the streets, and I couldn’t play with them because I had to practice.

Where do you get your influences, for both classical and contemporary music?
Influence when it comes to classical music comes from the music itself, because I’m not a composer, I just take influences from other artists and pianists. When it comes to classical music, I was always very drawn to Russian composers. Most of my classical repertoire is Russian, so I would always go- Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff- or something like that. Maybe it’s because I’m Slavic, so and we share the same soul!

As for the other kinds of music, I don’t know. I always say electronic music is my biggest love in my life and we used to go to these techno parties and just [listen to] techno music for a long, long time. And not anymore, but it’s still electronic music, house, lounge music which I love.

So what’s on your iPod?
My playlist is so diverse! Mostly it’s classical, and then you have uh – I don’t know, I like everything! I like pop music, electronic. I’ve been listening to some Japanese Dubstep- really like dubstep now, some DJs, friends of mine who made me compilations… I like Marilyn Manson too!

Maksim made his exciting return to Singapore on November 26 at the Esplanade.