memory flicks through sides of biographies, which are dedicated to the contact
with human beings dear to me -
composers, performers, and somehow I am surprised by the fact that some of them
emerge in my memory particularly often. These memories warm the soul, I would
like to express some special thanks, but, unfortunately, it is already a bit
got to know Mogens Ellegaard in Klingenthal in1975, but we had already heard
from each other: we both had recordings from each other. He had come with his
own students in order to listen to the competition and to meet, at the same
time, with his future wife, the accordionist Marta Bene from Hungary. This was a
complicated love story, but after all, they had a lucky, but not very long
common life. As first prize-winner of 1969, I was invited by the organizers of
the international competition in Klingenthal in order to take part in the
evening concerts. I still remember the sincere joy in the face of Ellegaard at
the moment of becoming acquainted with him. During lunch we sat next to each
other and talked in German. Suddenly the waiter brought us both, unexpectedly
for me, a large jug of beer. He explained that my new friend had made this
order, whose payment he naturally took over unnoticed by me. Mogens repelled my
attempts to pay with a smile: “The money is round!”
During the gala concert, at which the Warsaw Accordion
Quintet under the direction of L.Puchnovski, V.Besfamilnov and other musicians
took part, I played the Sonate Nr 3 by Vl. Solotarjov. After this concert I won
many admirers and new friends, among others Elsbeth Moser. Mogens with Marta and
Elsbeth expressed the desire to spend the evening together and we drove to my
hotel in Plauen, 30 kilometers from Klingenthal. We celebrated till dawn. It was
an unusual night with new friends. They were perfectly delighted by
Solotarjov’s music and expressed even words of sincere sympathy for me. One
must say that after this appearance my international career began. L.Puchnovski
invited me to Bialystok (Poland) to his annual summer courses, F.Lacroix to the
annual seminars to Châtel (France), and after some years Ellegaard organized
two concert tours for me in Scandinavia, and Moser in Germany. That evening
Mogens expressed the enormous desire to purchase such a bayan “Jupiter” I
had. The next morning I would have arrived almost too late at the airport
Berlin/Schönefeld for the return flight to Moscow where a telegram already
waited for me with the message that Vladislav Solotarjov was no longer alive ...
following year I met Mogens and his
young wife Marta at the annual summer seminary in Châtel (France), which was
organized by Fernand Lacroix. Besides the concerts and master classes we spent
much time together. I was pleased by his way of teaching - with the instrument
in his hands, the convincing argumentation of his own demands, an abundance of
interesting associations, always with his own, special humor. Again we spent the
night before leaving France together till the morning, with exquisite beverages,
full of discussions about problems of the bayan. When leaving he said to Marta:
“We must reserve one night for Friedrich each year!” (literally: “pull out
one night from the calendar”)
message that the most prominent musician in the west expressed the desire to
purchase a bayan “Jupiter” evoked a certain euphoria of the management and
the masters of the Moscovites bayan factory in the factory’s everyday life.
Finally it was an acknowledgment of the Russian way of thinking of how to
construct instruments. A.Ginzburg, director of the bayan factory, vehemently
supported the idea of constructing bayans “Jupiter” for export, even more,
as one of the most important musicians in the west was concerned, and he asked
his best masters to do this job: main technical designer J.Volkovitch and V.
Vasiljev, who was prominent with the manufacturing of the reeds. One must say
that Mogens such as most bayanists
and accordionists in the west, played on a 9 row-instrument (3 rows of melody
bass, which were arranged near the bellows, and 6 rows of standard bass). In Germany I told him that nobody makes 9 rows in Russia, but
only 6 with the converter key on the left keyboard. Then he asked rather timidly:
"O.k., the future will belong to the 6 row-instrument with converter, I
will try to study it, however, please do make a C-Griff bayan for me with the
low notes on the top of the melody bass manual, particularly since I do not have
so many years left, in order to be able to acquire my whole own repertoire on
your B-system, with the basses down". Volkovitch did not have any special
problems to build a bayan with the new system for the first time. The instrument
turned out to be simply super! Ellegaard was very content with his new bayan and
generously thanked all masters.
as a joke I later said not only once that today nearly the whole world would
play on our system. If I would have told anybody at that time that it was
impossible in Russia to construct a C-Griff bayan because Mogens who wanted very
passionately to purchase a “Jupiter” would probably have begun to study the
B-system... This is a joke of course, but Ellegaard’s influence on the whole
art of playing the bayan was so big in the west that soon all producers in Italy
and Germany changed to six-row bayans with converter in the left keyboard.
about Ellegaard’s personality, one must think of everything he has achieved in
life. I think the fact that his being talented artist, the divine grace of the
paedagogue and the organizer in international fields permitted to him to succeed
in all walks of life thus leaving an outstanding trace in the world-wide bayan
opening of accordion classes at the Danish Royal Conservatoire in Copenhagen, at
the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, at the Conservatoire in Oslo as well as the
University for Music and Theatre in Graz (Austria) is connected with the name of
Ellegaard. Among his pupils there are Matti Rantanen, Owen Murray, Jon Faukstad,
Geir Draugsvoll, James Grabb and many, many others.
was one of the first to recognize the necessity to create an original repertoire
for our instrument. He worked hard with composers and also included all new
names into this process. O.Schmidt, P.Nørgård,
N.V. Bentzon, L.Kayser, P.Olsen and many others, in fact, all
Scandinavian composers dedicated their works to him. Ellegaard has arranged an
impressive list of the works of
Scandinavian composers with indication of the years of their premiere. It is a
fact that most of the works from this list are used constantly by accordionists
of almost all countries in their educational and concert repertoires.
Ellegaard’s co-operation with composers is a valuable contribution for the
world-wide “treasure-chest” of bayanists.
was driven by unbelievable discipline in his life. His day started at
5 o'clock in the morning. He practiced on the instrument, answered
letters and then drove to work at the conservatoire at 9 o'clock. In general,
he was an unusually well educated human being. He had excellent knowledge of
English, German, French,
Norwegian, Swedish and, of course, Danish. When I got letters
from him, and I collected not just a few, as there was no fax or internet at
that time, even a telephone call had to be ordered one or two days before, it
was always a real pleasure how he developed his thoughts in his letters. First
why the letter was written, then a small report on his activities, afterwards he
wanted to know things about my family and he told me how he spent his time with
his family, and in the end he absolutely let flow the element of humor, the
whole letter was written in outstanding German.
contact with him always presented enormous pleasure to me. Mogens showed himself,
and that in relation to its environment, always in a very humorous way, he
estimated humor and reacted to the jokes of others both skillfully and in a very
open way. I remember when we were sitting in the restaurant together with his
class after my concert in the Danish Royal Conservatoire in Copenhagen. One of
his students was wearing a red roll neck.
wears it for your honour, because you come from Moscow!
was Ellegaard unable to resist to remark. In general, he was glad to make
fun of the political system in the Soviet Union at that time.
neither have democracy nor the right to free expression of opinion!
he continued to put pressure on me the whole evening. But, in the sense of
humor, we reacted differently, therefore I called with
not? We also say what we want!
I can go to the main place of Copenhagen and say: the Prime Minister
of Denmark Nilsen is an idiot! Can you do the same in Moscow?
I can go to Red Square in Moscow and also say: the Prime Minister
Denmark Nilsen is an idiot!
We laughed all evening. Generally Mogens knew excellently how
to receive his guests, as well as to organize tours and master classes. In
Mietne (Poland) in 1992, on his initiative the International Accordion Society
IAS was founded consisting of five board members: Matti Rantanen (Finland), Lech
Puchnovski (Poland), Mogens Ellegaard (Denmark), Joseph Macerollo (Canada),
Friedrich Lips (Russia). President of the executive committee should be either
Puchnovski or Ellegaard. But none of them wanted to take over this
responsibility and finally, among five members of the board Ellegaard proved to
be “the first among equals”. Finally, he was motor and generator of various
ideas. Besides, thanks to his knowledge of languages he was able to communicate
with each of the four other members of the board. We tried to realize the
following ideas: standardisation of all instrument models, standardisation of
terms in musical works, independent of country and publishing house. At the
congresses in Finland, Germany and twice in Italy we agreed on most questions
despite large difficulties. But, unfortunately, all compiled ideas remained on
paper, because, after Ellegaard had passed away in 1995, no leader could be
found to complete the work. We all were convinced of the importance of
a strong personality for the completion of a certain work.
remember our last meeting at the accordion festival in Toronto (Canada) in 1994. As the organizer of the festival Joseph Macerollo
succeeded in bringing together the stars among the accordion artists: Mogens
Ellegaards, Hugo Noth, Matti Rantanen, Mini Dekkers... Joseph Macerollo
premiered R.Murray Schafer's "Accordion Concerto" with symphony
orchestra, I presented new original music of Russian composers for bayan.
Coincidentally Ellegaard and I had booked the same return flight to Frankfurt.
We sat in a row next to each other and, the whole night, we talked. It was a
further completely mad night with an unusually interesting interlocutor, with a
personality! Everything began with an aperitif before dinner.
I ordered a small bottle of whisky "Johnny Walker", and Mogens
a bottle of “Martell”.
I was surprised: Mogens was a big admirer of whisky and I had got
accustomed to this noble beverage, when he brought me a litre bottle
“Ballantine” as a gift on his first trip to Moscow. But after a few minutes
everything was as usual again: “Why did
I order this Cognac? I should have ordered whisky like you!"
- and as the hostess came by next time, he ordered whisky for me and himself.
Without closing an eye, we sketched different projects for the development of
the art of bayan on international level. We spoke about the fact that one should
help the young people to find work and arrange concert tours; on the initiative
of our international society we planned the founding of a new international
competition as well as the organization of small tours for young winners as an
award instead of prize money. Generally Ellegaard did not appreciate
competitions, particularly the “Coupe Mondiale” which he did not consider
serious enough. We continued our discussion about the standardisation of the
instruments and terms in the world-wide bayan literature, only interrupted by
the conversations with the hostesses concerning the beverages. We continued to
order whisky regularly ... Suddenly it occurred to Mogens:
has not come for a long time!
and he pressed the button, in order to call the hostess.
they will not given us anything more. We already have drunk quite a
I expressed my fear carefully.
we will get some more, certainly!
Naturally they brought us bottles. In addition Mogens
personally went to the hostesses and brought back some whisky. That was him!. If
he had an aim, he also reached it. All in all everyone of us, as far as I
remember, had drunk seven bottles (about 350 milliliters).
I had the impression that he was missing the contact to colleagues. And actually,
he had the enormous house with his wife in Sweden, in a large forest, there was
nobody else; very seldom contact with his students in Denmark, no discussions on
university level, with nobody... While working
in the jury of competitions in Witten, Moscow or in the meetings of our
international society I felt, how
he longed for discussions with colleagues.
Mogens would be 70 years old. But unfortunately it has been already 10 years that he is no longer with us. Were
his pupils, as the following generation,
grateful, and we? He has set himself a monument dedicated by
literature, the photographs as well as by his various activities. But I
think, it would have been necessary to create a "Mogens Ellegaard-Prize"
as regular competition for young musicians. It took place in Copenhagen once, it
was planned to be annually in different countries of Scandinavia. However, it
could not be realized. It would also be
interesting to collect articles about this outstanding
musician; notes about Ellegaard’s educational principles could be taken by his
pupils or from the memories of colleagues and friends... One could still invent
We should learn to be grateful to God not only for our own appearance in this