There is more to dashingly handsome violinist Filip Pogády than meets the eye.
While he worked as a model for the world-famous Elite agency, becoming a poster child for big name brands like Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs, Pogády’s heroes remain the old school violin masters of the Golden Age. His heart belongs – as it did growing up in Linz, Austria – to the sounds of Heifetz, Menuhin, and Oistrakh.
Working out is definitely still a part of his daily regimen, which also includes social media posts of vigorous violin exercises of the classical repertoire made public for his large numbers of followers on various platforms.
Pogády believes in sharing his passion for classical music beyond the concert hall experience.
Throughout his student years, Pogády did partake in the outreach efforts of the Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now Foundation, taking the concept a step further by performing Bach Sonatas and Partitas in New York City’s subway stations with astonishingly positive results. “Even people who are totally unfamiliar with classical music connected so directly and on such a humane level; it’s because this music is just so great,” he says.
(Photo: from first modeling job for Calvin Klein)
Ever since winning the Vienna Suzuki Violin Competition in the magnificent hall of the historic Vienna Konzerthaus at age 11, Pogády remembers his first experience performing with an orchestra: “The animated energy and thunderous applause from the audience that swept over the stage was an overwhelming experience, and determined my resolve to pursue a career as a violinist, right then and there.”
What followed were many years of “chasing the perfect performance, a concept that is only rarely achieved and at the end something quite unrealistic,” says Pogády. “Making music together is a matter of an exchange of energy. It can’t be over-communicated, it just has to work; you are a match or you are not,” he explains. “If it works, that happens naturally, musical ideas overlap and the temperament of each performer coincide. Of course there are always spikes possible, but the most important thing in a good collaboration is consistency,” he says, and mentions pianist Peter Fančovič, also a brilliant improviser, as one of his favorite collaborators. Connected through their Eastern European background – both were born in Bratislava, Slovakia – the young performers met at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of renowned masters. In 2008, Pogády was accepted to the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at New York’s Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship.
“It was not easy to get used to the fast pace and big pond kind of sentiment, predominating New York City’s lifestyle and the mentality of the people,” he describes. Pogády, who had absolved his undergraduate studies at the Vienna Conservatory and grew up in slow-paced Linz, took a little time to adjust to the US. At the same time, his international background facilitated an embrace of the no-home, or rather everywhere-home, mindset so necessary for today’s mostly international career musicians, whose schedules are built on involved travel for worldwide performances.
“Zukerman had been my idol for many years, since my early teens,” affirms Pogády, “and it was an amazing opportunity to meet Zukerman in person for the first time at a master class when attending the Ottawa Young Artist Program Festival. It was fascinating to come face to face with the great artist I had admired for so long,” says Pogády, continuing: “It came as a great surprise that during the course of the festival, he invited me to come to New York, as his student. I was not really familiar with his teaching style yet, but I decided to pursue this one-in-a-lifetime chance and follow his invitation,” he explains.
After completing his master’s degree and critics’ praises of his playing as “lighting –like,” (Russkoe Slovo) and “commanding” (NY Times), he continued his journey on his own. During that time, it became clear to the young performer that he was his best publicist.
Posting his recitals and daily practice on You Tube, Facebook, and Instagram, the young performer attracted thousands of followers, and the more fans he activated, the more performance offers came in. Some of the old school recording labels were initially confused because of his previous career as a model, assuming they were dealing with a cross-over artist, not a serious classical musician. But nothing could be further from the truth; in fact the traditional, classical repertoire is at the heart of what Pogády aspires to.
These days Pogády no longer pursues modeling, and the number of fans he garnered with his fashion shoots has certainly not diminished his popularity as a performer – in fact quite the opposite. In a music market where recording labels are just as eager as concert producers to hire musicians that bring their own fan base to the fore, visibility can only help.
Besides his local concerts in the New York Metropolitan Area, the 31-year-old has traveled extensively for engagements in Asia and Europe and the artist’s stage presence facilitated some on- screen guest appearances, including a spot on Louis CK’s Louie.
Pogády shared his 2016 LPR (Le Poisson Rouge) debut with Georgian David Aladashvili, and has been repeatedly paired with the cool, young pianist at concerts in Seoul. This December, I heard Pogády perform in an invigorating Tchaikovsky trio with pianist Vassily Primakov and cellist Yves Dharamraj at Sparkill’s Union Arts Center; it was a remarkable collaboration, and not long afterward, we had the opportunity to meet up again while traveling. During a mutual brief stopover in Berlin, Germany, we decided to seize the moment, and while the concert was still fresh in my ears, we met at borchardt, a hot spot for the best “wiener schnitzel” in town, for our interview.
Check out his all Tchaikovsky debut album.