Katica Illényi

Katica Illényi – violinist, singer, thereminist… Born in Budapest, Hungary. Raised in a musical family At the age of 14 she was admitted into the Franz Liszt Academy of Music on violin in Budapest to the class of “special talents”. During her college years she also studied classical and jazz singing, tapdance, jazz dance and classical ballet skills. In 1991 she obtained her masters degree in violin at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. From the very beginning of her career Katica played many operetta and musical roles, but always remained faithful to the violin.

Besides classical music she trained herself in various genres like jazz, swing and world music. She discovered the uniqueness of the genres that she did not get to know through classical music. Katica began her solo career in 2002. She has since then given successful concerts every year, always with a new repertoire in the style of classical and jazz music. 2012 Liszt Prize. On 15 March the Hungarian government awarded Katica the prestigious Franz Liszt Prize. It is the highest state award in the field of music. “I like and respect classical music because it makes me calm. Light music entertains me. I am in balance in the field of music and in private life. Without being aware of it I endeavour to be in harmony both mentally and spiritually.

For this I am grateful and happy” Katica Illényi Katica started to play on the theremin about a year ago. She practiced for hours each day, and now, the „new” instrument has become an indispensable part of her concerts. They hardly knew anything about the theremin in Hungary, so Katica’s goal is to introduce this mysterious instrument to as many people as possible, in hope that more and more of them will want to learn how to play on it.

 What is your musical philosophy and what place it occupies a theremin?

I believe music is for sharing joy and happiness with our fellow beings therefore it doesn‘t matter on which instrument we play. However, theremin is trully an instrument for the soul. It’s extraordinary and mystical sound has a great impact on our emotions. Up to this day theremin is considered as a some kind of „miracle“.

Prospects for theremin and its place in modern music space – how you see them? For what qualities you value this tool?

My opinion is theremin is perfect for every genres of music. Just as classical, modern, even jazz.

Which manufacturer of theremin do you prefer?

As I mentioned before in our country I could not buy a theremin so I ordered a Moog Etherwave theremin which I found the most convenient as a first step of my practice. I have not met with other or more complex theremins. Since I have started playing the theremin about six months ago I don‘t have too much experience.

What you can recommend for beginners thereminists, or those who are just going to start their way of thereminist?

I would recommend for beginners and advanced theremin players as well: to listen to a lot of singing and string instruments as much as they can and try to imitate these sounds. It really helps a lot! Listen to music they know very well, preferably with someone singing. It can be for example an opera aria or a slow movement of a violin concerto. While listening to music they should try to play on the theremin along with the melody. Don’t give it up before you can’t play it the same way as you heard it. Do care about the vibrato, the perfect pitch and so on… Surrender to the music and after a while your hand will find the right notes in the air.

Peter Theremin thereminist, Theremin Today header, great-grandson of Leon Theremin