Meet Theresia: Léna Ruisz

By Emilia Campagna

September 22, 2021

Léna Ruisz, violinist from Hungary, is a new member of Theresia: she joined the orchestra after the last auditions, and took part in the chamber project in Geneve in the last August. We met her and asked her to tell us about herself and the musical world around her activities.

Tell us about your musical history: when and how did you start to play the violin?

I have the good fortune of having an amazing, music-loving mum, so I decided to start playing the violin already at the age of four, after listening to lots of live Hungarian folk music with her. The first violinist of the group was quite a character — he made me fall in love with the instrument, and we have stayed friends ever since.

You decided to focus on historical performance when you met Monika Toth: what did impress you so much?

Monika is a wonderful teacher who helps you find yourself in music; freedom, light, and colours — she allows you to experiment and discover your own musical language. She uses the whole world to demonstrate what music has to tell; suddenly, the violin starts to speak. There is nothing more inspiring than that.

How did you learn about Theresia, and why did you decide to join it?

Quite a few good friends of mine were already playing there, and they told me a lot about it — but only now I had the feeling that I am ready to play a later repertoire. After being busy with the period before 1750, I am thrilled to broaden my understanding of the world of classical and early romantic composers as a member of such an excellent orchestra!

Your first experience was a chamber project: how was it?

Well, it was quite a start within the confines of a renowned festival like Les Concerts de Saint-Germain, under the guidance of Chiara Bianchini and Alfredo Bernardini. After four days of intense rehearsals, cooking sessions and lovely talks on the beach of Lake Geneva, the group grew together, and we played two great concerts at the end of this intensive week. 

Are you more an orchestral player or a chamber music one?

This is a hard question; both have their advantages… being part of one big, gorgeous sound, playing along the others, cannot be compared to anything — but my heart belongs to smaller ensembles. I enjoy the complexity, the responsibility and the intense personal discussions that one has in such a setup. 

You have studied mostly in Hungary, your country, Austria and Italy: how was your experience abroad?

I enjoy being challenged in a new artistic environment – I find the change of the working language the most interesting. I remember being incredibly touched while playing Matthäus-Passion for the first time understanding every word. We spent time with Ulrike Engel – my beloved professor in Vienna – finding a German text for the g-minor fugue for solo violin by J.S.Bach – all of a sudden, the melody became much easier to form. I can’t wait to be able to follow L’Orfeo by Monteverdi in Italian…

How important is music and music education in Hungary?

The deep-rooted respect of the long tradition of violin playing of Joachim József (Joseph Joachim), Jenő Hubay, Leopold Auer and Stefi Geyer is still alive in our music education. Every single one of us is a grand-grandchild of one of the “greatests” thanks to the passed-on legacy from our teachers. I believe that this is a priceless heritage. 

What do you like more about your country, regarding music and generally speaking?

The nature! Our mountains and forests are filled with secret hiking trails, breathtaking views, hidden places for an evening around the fire with friends… not to mention, that it is legal to sleep outside for one night in the forest. One of the nicest experiences is to get up to the birds at the crack of dawn. Folk music is also an integral part of our lives; we have “dance houses” — folk dance events with live music where everyone is dancing and singing together deep into the night.

During a residency like Theresia’s one, you find yourself working with musicians from many countries, how is it like? Do you think this fact enhances your experience?

Even after years of living abroad, it never ceases to amaze me how diverse personalities artists have; and how easy it is to make those differences to enchant every performance. Nevertheless, I believe that those differences are coming from each individual rather than their nationalities. I am fascinated by studying new languages – I somewhat believe that each language unlocks a new personality trait… yet another benefit of being a musician: there is always someone with whom I can practice the current language I am learning.

How is a typical day of yours?

It contains lots of fresh air, walk and yoga in the morning, several hours of discovering new repertoire as a warm-up and an intense session of working on the current pieces, preferably with others in a form of an early music jam session. After practicing  a good cup of coffee is in order alongside with a nice chat with my colleagues. I like to keep my evenings free for parties, movie nights or even walks in the forest by myself.

What do you like to do when you are not studying/playing?

As I am in general obsessed with colours, one can most probably find me painting a scene of some kind of enchanted story with tiny details, capturing an interesting part of a leaf with my camera, or hiking or running out in the forest with friends. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I suppose I am open to anything. As long as it includes me being happy playing music, painting and discovering the world as an artist… I am good to go.

Photo credit: Róza Radnóti

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About Emilia Campagna

Journalist and musician, Emilia is a blogger for Theresia