András Keller: ‘These were people with young families. Their electricity was switched off. There was no money’

The conductor has had to get his orchestra, the Concerto Budapest Symphony, through punishing times. It’s  ust one of the unexpected twists in his life. - by Michael Dervan Irish Times

Photo: Csilla Cseke

András Keller’s life began similar to many other professional musicians, when he took up the violin at the age of seven. But it quickly took the first of what would turn out to be a series of unexpected turns. “I was quite good – not exceptional, but I was winning competitions for young people,” says the leader of the celebrated Keller string quartet, who makes his Irish conducting debut with the Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra next week. The first turnaround came when he caught scarlet fever at the age of 10 and had to stay at home for five or six weeks. “The parents went to work,” he says. “I stayed home, alone, and I discovered music.”

His father, an economist, was a passionate amateur musician with a large collection of LPs and scores, which Keller started exploring. While laid up, he made what he calls “a lifelong real friendship with music. And after that, everything had changed.”
He went to the Liszt Academy in his native Budapest at the age of 14, in the mid-1970s – “one of the golden ages”, he calls it, “with incredible teachers, tutors, professors and a unique atmosphere”.

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