A private tour inside the palms of Martin Fröst – click the squares:
A long time ago, when I was in Asia, someone told me that this line, here, would one day stop and split into another line, and that the new line would be a sign that I should start something new. I am not sure that I believe that entirely, but in any case, I’ve recently noticed the tracks of a new line and, combined with several personal circumstances, I felt the urge to make some rather surprising artistic choices. One of which was to launch the Martin Fröst Foundation, which will help young musicians around the world with education and instruments. Secondly, I chose to accept the invitation to become Chief Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. These new artistic paths appeared in the middle of my life; before that, I had been solely focused on playing my clarinet. Indeed, my so-called “professional line,” which, until recently, was very clear and directed, seems to be taking a turn and carving a new path.
Both of my parents were doctors. When you have doctors as parents, there is nothing wrong with you, ever. Until this one time, when I sliced off a piece of my middle finger while trying to cut a piece of wood with a sharp knife. Finally, my father seemed concerned. I remember how he checked it very carefully, making sure no nerves were damaged. He eventually announced that there was nothing wrong and that I could go back to practicing.
The most important thing that I’ve ever done with my hands is hold my newborn children. I remember being very alert to the touch of my hands against these tiny heads, which were smaller than my palm back then. When you hold such a delicate creature, you become so much more aware of your hands, and ever so determined to do good with them.
I don’t have a routine for warming up my hands before concerts. It doesn’t matter what you play for a warmup, though; it matters how you play it. My firstborn was always with me when she was young. She loved hanging with me in the green room, but she was very jealous of my clarinet, which made it difficult for me to warmup properly before taking the stage. The only tune she’d allowed me to play was the Pippi Longstocking theme song. I warmed up by playing the tune in different versions: staccato, legato and changing dynamics. Every concert, when they knocked on my door to call me onstage, I was playing Pippi Longstocking; it worked as well as any other conventional exercise.
Once as a student, I was almost hit by a tram. I managed to escape by jumping past it, but I did end up severely breaking my arm. Two days later, I went to my clarinet lesson and played “Flight Of The Bumblebee” for my teacher using only my left hand. My teacher was not amused. At the time, I was extremely fixated – almost obsessive – about my musical studies. He told me to go home, relax and come back in four weeks when my arm was healed.
It has been a while since I recall having cold hands due to anxiety, which was a common occurrence in the past. I remember feeling embarrassed going onstage and having to shake hands with the concertmaster, knowing that the touch of my cold hand might make him think, “Poor guy, he is super nervous!” As I get older, I focus much less on my own playing during a concert, which ultimately results in me being much more relaxed onstage. Anxiety has a lot to do with being too focused on yourself, like an actor who is able to forget themselves, allowing the character to flow through them without resistance.