MET violist Katherine Anderson has been interviewing orchestra members to capture a snapshot of the many personalities of the MET as they talk about their lives both in and out of music. Here she speaks with Garrett Fischbach, a violist in the MET Orchestra since 1998.
KA: What have been some of your favorite, most inspiring Met performances?
GF: My very first performance at the Met was opening night of the 1998-99 season. Placido Domingo and Olga Borodina sang the title roles in Samson et Dalila. Basking in the sound of those glorious voices while playing in the orchestra was a beautiful way to start my career with the Met. The performances of Der Rosenkavalier in 1999-2000 with Renee Fleming, Heidi Grant Murphy and Susan Graham made a huge impression on me. I had known and loved Strauss mostly for his tone poems and some of his songs, but the operas were unfamiliar to me. To have all the things I loved about Strauss magnified and elaborated in this way was a revelation.
KA: Who were some of the major musical influences in your life?
GF: My father, Gerald Fischbach, who gave me my first violin lessons and nurtured my growing interest in classical music.
The cellist George Neikrug, now 95 years old, with whom I had violin lessons during my teens. He had studied with D.C. Dounis and Emanuel Feuermann, played alongside Toscha Seidel, and sought to emulate the sound of Fritz Kreisler.
Shmuel Ashkenasi, who had early on become one of my favorite violinists and remains one of my favorite musicians of all time. It was a great fortune that I could study with him in graduate school.
Glenn Gould. Though I wouldn’t try to emulate his musical eccentricities, I love almost everything he does.
Many great singers, past and present including Jussi Björling, Bidú Sayão, Placido Domingo, and Angela Gheorghiu.
KA: If you had to pick just two “desert island” composers who would they be?
GF: J.S. Bach and Richard Strauss. And Beethoven.