Accordion music has been an inseparable part of Mihály Demeniv’s life since birth. He received his first, one-octave instrument from his parents (who also play and teach the accordion) when he was only four years old. “Nobody forced me to get into music; at first playing the accordion was just a game for me. But then I realised what the instrument is capable of, and I just couldn’t put it down.” His first teachers were his mother and father, who remain his most important, and most honest, mentors to this day. From the very beginning Mihály Demeniv performed on stage a lot, and on more than one occasion spent the whole day playing the accordion at home instead of going to school.
This dedication was soon reflected in his achievements: at the age of eight he won his first international competition, in Ungvár; and since then, besides numerous competitions in Hungary, he has received awards at events in Italy (in 2009 at the “Citta di Castelfidardo” and in 2013 at the “Citta di Lanciano” International Accordion Festival), Slovakia (in 2010 and 2011 at the “Coupe Jeunesse” competition) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (in 2013 at the “Akordeon Art” International Accordion Festival), among others. “At these competitions we’re never competing against each other; we compete so we can develop the aspects of our playing that may be weaker. If you’re serious about music, you need to be able to react positively to criticism.”
The accordionist is so at ease in competitive situations that he sometimes gets his own students to compete as well, just for fun. As well as giving concerts Deminiv, who recently graduated from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, is also an active teacher, introducing music school pupils to the intricacies of accordion playing. Popularising the accordion, an instrument that’s capable of imitating any other, is an overriding mission for the artist, and he puts together his concert programmes so as to show as many different sides of the instrument as possible. “The accordion’s got a soul, and I’d say the various styles are like different languages: the more of them you learn, the more capable you are of expressing yourself.”
The general public first got to know Mihály Demeniv as a finalist and special prize-winner in the talent show Virtuosos, broadcast by Hungarian Television in 2014, when his performances enabled thousands of viewers to experience accordion music in its elemental form. His incredibly wide repertoire is bound together by his dedication and immeasurable love for his chosen instrument. The works of Bach are his gospel, he plays Liszt with virtuosity, passionately interprets the music of Latin composers such as Albéniz or Piazzolla, and always finds new challenges for himself in contemporary music and jazz. In the first round of Virtuosos he performed Franck Angelis’ Impasse on his piano-keyed accordion, a piece that professional musicians had previously dismissed as impossible to play on this type of instrument. “Whatever difficulties may crop up in your life, you should always keep struggling to achieve your goals.”
He’s no stranger to extreme chamber music formations either, having performed in such exotic formations as harp, tuba and accordion, among others. He has taken the stage as soloist for symphonic orchestras a number of times, performing in such major concert venues as the Grand Hall of the Liszt Academy or the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, but believes it is just as important to reach audiences who may never have heard the likes of his music before. “Music is a transference of energy, a source of encouragement for people; since ancient times it has communicated moods and states of being, helping people to discover a common voice and find each other.”