Welcome to my first blog. In this series, I would like to give you an insight into the life of a classical pianist, in other words, into my life. I am Maxim Heijmerink, 21 years old and currently a 4th-year student of classical piano, studying with Frank van de Laar at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. In this first blog, I will give you a short summary of the past ten years.
In the following blogs, I want to go deeper into specific moments from my musical journey, studying preparing for a concert and give more background on certain pieces and composers. Do you have questions you have wanted to ask a musician for a long time? Be sure to send me an e-mail, and I may include your question in a future blog.
I started piano lessons when I was 11 years old. Relatively late to start, but I was immediately captivated by the music. Playing the piano immediately became my great love and has now, ten years later, brought me many exceptional experiences at home and abroad. After the first year of taking lessons, I played in the final of the young talent show in the Concertgebouw. That was the moment when I knew for sure “I knew now music would become my life’’.
Every day, I started to study more and more, composed my own pieces and looked for the best piano pedagogue. It was a real privilege for me to study with Mila Baslawskaja. She and her husband, Dmitry Ferschtman (cellist), studied both at the Moscow Conservatory. Imagine: they played together for the great Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The couple left the Soviet Union in 1978 to settle in the Netherlands.
At the age of 15, I got accepted to study with Mila Baslawskaja at the Sweelinck Academy, the Academy for Young Talent of the Amsterdam Conservatory. In addition to five days of high school, I spent a day on the weeken at the Conservatory for piano, theory, singing lessons and various music-related subjects. That period has shaped me enormously and opened my eyes to the power of classical music. I participated in music competitions, such as the Princess Christina Competition. Because I won several prizes, I got to play a lot of concerts and with that a lot of stage experience at a reasonably young age. I also travelled to Canada, and the United States for a tour played in Switzerland and attended masterclasses from Bergen to Tel Aviv. One day I performed in a beautiful room with chandeliers and the next day in the closed dementia ward in the retirement home. Classical music is for everyone, and young people should be much more in touch with this.
I played on various TV programs, in front of young people in Ahoy (20,000 people) and living rooms. The reward for the many daily hours of practice, the injuries, the ups and downs, is for me, the final performance with an audience. That moment when everything comes together: the atmosphere of the location, the magic of the grand piano, the notes of the composer, the effects of the acoustics, the audience that feels the music and listens breathlessly to the beautiful hall and then finally: the applause. At that moment, everything comes together and resonates in me in an explosion of energy.
For the coming months, I have solo concerts and performances with my Van Gogh Trio on my schedule. At the moment, my daily piano hours are between four and six hours a day, but are merely in preparation for my final exams: a 50-minute solo recital (by heart!), in front of a jury of five piano teachers from the Conservatory, which hopefully have an audience this year. Very exciting, but above all a lot of fun!
In June, I also have something else special on the agenda, and next time I will write for the community, it will be about my dreams and more.