Born into a family of musicians, I was exposed to music on a daily (and often nightly) basis. My parents where both opera singers and moved to Vienna in the 1950s. My mother’s career ended with the birth of my elder brother, and my father had a big international career as a tenor.
I started learning the piano when I was 8 years old but was drawn to the popular music of the late 60s and wanted to learn the guitar. My three brothers each played an instrument, but it was my younger brother strumming away on his guitar in the room next to me that caught my attention –I loved the sound of it. When he was away I sneaked over and took the guitar. It wasn’t long before I got my own and was practicing day and night. My parents didn’t see me for days. By the age of 16, I knew this was it.
Within a few years I had taught myself to read music and played more demanding pieces. I was fascinated by Bach’s lute music and by Spanish composers. Increasingly I was experimenting with my own music and with contemporary composers.
I had just started my last year of high school when my father introduced me to Professor Karl Scheit from the Vienna University of Music, a renowned teacher and well-known publisher of guitar music. Prof Scheit encouraged me to apply to the Vienna Music University, so after my A levels I did my entry exam and was accepted. I was 18 year old when I had my first formal guitar lesson.
In 1980 I graduated after 6 years at the Vienna Music University, and continued learning in London with Professor Antonio Albanes at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to improve my technique. One year later I was performing in many places around Europe, Canada and Asia.
For me, the formal classical study was a means to master the instrument and to understand how music is composed; it was not my intention to become a classical performer. My heart was always in my own music and that of selected contemporary composers.