Biography - Bálint Kruppa

violin

Bálint Kruppa first got to know the violin through folk music, at traditional dancing clubs. His experiences here inspired him to start playing the violin at the age of seven, which was also when he joined the Schola Hungarica children’s choir led by László Dobszay. Here he received a thorough grounding in the Gregorian style during the regular studio recordings. From the age of eleven he studied at the Liszt Academy’s Special School for Exceptional Young Talents under the tutelage of Eszter Perényi, who remained his most important mentor throughout his years at the Academy. “It was from her that I learned the basic techniques, but I was also greatly influenced by her way of thinking, her attitude to music and her taste.” Besides violin, Bálint Kruppa also studied musical composition under István Győr. “Having first hand experience of the guiding forces that drive composers during the creative process is extremely helpful when approaching a new piece. Being able to see why the composer chose one note over another also helps me with the interpretation.” Academic study is an increasingly important part of Bálint’s life, as since 2016 he has been studying at the Liszt Academy’s Doctoral School. His chosen research topic is the violin works of Stravinsky, whose practical artistic approach, grounded in reality and the present, is extremely close to his heart.

Bálint Kruppa gained valuable orchestral experience as the concertmaster of the Liszt Academy Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of such greats as Zoltán Kocsis. These days he concentrates mainly on chamber music, regularly putting on new works with his ensemble, the Kruppa String Quartet. “Four strings is an incredibly complex genre, where the musicians are uniquely dependent on each other. It demands a completely different attitude, even in comparison to piano chamber music, both technically and from a psychological perspective.” Of his teachers, János Rolla, Rita Wagner, Márta Gulyás, András Keller, János Devich and Barnabás Kelemen all had a defining influence on Kruppa Bálint’s chamber music playing. Barnabás Kelemen (who was also a student of Eszter Perényi), his unique tones, manner of performance and unorthodox approach, also sets an important for him. “Apart from my teachers, I always saw Zoltán Kocsis as a role model too, both in terms of his mentality and the part he played in public life. He prepared for every single work so thoroughly that no white patches remained, either in terms of the notes themselves or his knowledge of the background of the piece. He was also receptive to other arts, and his presence in the musical scene went beyond that of just a musician.”

Bálint has numerous competition successes under his belt in both the chamber music and solo categories. In 2013, at the Leó Weiner National Chamber Music Competition, he took 1st prize and a special award in the Sonata category, as well as 2nd prize and a special award in the String Quartet category, and also won 2nd prize and a special award at the National Zathureczky Memorial Competition, in 2014. And although he sees the competitions as a useful source of motivation to develop his playing, he believes that chamber music festivals present at least as good opportunities for performing. In 2013 he played at the Lockenhaus Kammerfest, and is a regular performer at contemporary music events such as the Hallgatás Napja (Day of Listening) festival, or the Arcus Temporum Festival in Pannonhalma. The year 2015 brought many awards for the violinist, as he won the Annie Fischer Scholarship, the Gundel Award for the Arts, and the Junior Prima Award.

At his concerts, Bálint always plays a varied selection of pieces, which can make for some exciting contrasts. “I usually avoid playing two works from the same period in the same concert, and aim for there to be the greatest possible difference between the pieces that I play. Contemporary music, for example, is excellent for taking the listener into new territory.” His performance of Bartók’s Violin Concerto represented an important milestone in his career, and he would very much like to perform Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto which, alongside that of Bartók, he considers to be the most important creation of the 20th century in this genre. In his chamber repertoire, Schubert’s Violin Quintet in C Major has consistently, for many years, represented a high point for him.

Bálint Kruppa also has an affinity for other forms of art. He draws, is a keen photographer, and has a fascination for the architecture of Hungary’s mediaeval churches. In spring 2017, the Kruppa String Quartet is launching its own series of concerts, during which they will play Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross in its original form, with reflections between the movements, at seven different venues. “I believe that listening to music simply makes you a better person. Music has a good effect on the personality, and also helps you to resolve situations that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to tackle.”

Bálint Kruppa plays a Nemessányi violin, which he received on a three-year loan from the Friends of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in 2014.