«Seeing my violin as a game made me love music» (Levante, 21.09.2015)

At just 15 years of age, the violinist from Valencia Jacobo Christensen has conquered Europe and the United States. In his young career, he has had the opportunity to play with prestigious orchestras.

Concerts in Italy, Denmark and Switzerland and a tour through California last April. Nothing is standing in the way of Jacobo Christensen, the violinist from Valencia who at just 15 years old has played with prestigious international orchestras and has had as maestros eminent musicians like Zakhar Bron.

Born in Valencia, with a father from Denmark and a mother from Spain, early on he showed his special talent for music. At the age of two and a half, before he could speak, he held his first violin, fashioned out of cardboard by his father.

“My first teacher showed me how to see the violin as a game. This is really important with children, because that way they will love music. Playing the violin was a game; it was never serious business,” explains Jacobo Christensen.

He considers himself a normal teenager, and hates to be called a child prodigy. But winning first place in the Geneva International Music Competition for young musicians and playing with the Master Chamber Orchestra are just a couple of examples of how his musical talent is beyond extraordinary.

“I can’t stand to hear about child prodigies, because any child can be a prodigy if he is forced to study nine hours a day. Although we don’t all have the same talent, because there are different types of intelligence, anyone who tries hard enough can be a child prodigy,” explains this teenager.

The violinist brings up the case of Paganini, whose father made him study ten hours a day and wouldn’t let him eat if his concentration flagged, in his zeal to make him a child prodigy and says, “Exploiting someone so young isn’t worth it.”

“Imagine two violinists. One of them can play Paganini at age 14 and the other plays other, less complicated pieces and spends lots of time studying them. When they are 25 years old, both will play exactly the same. It’s not a question of who plays best, but of who enjoys music the most,” he reflects.

Many young talents have lost their childhood traveling from concert to concert, but Jacobo Christensen does not see himself like that. He feels he has had a completely normal life. “I’m just a kid who goes to high school every day; I haven’t had to move out of town to pursue the violin; I haven’t had to give anything up,” he says. 

On the contrary, the violin has given this young musician much more than he has had to sacrifice, since he has enjoyed playing it so much: “I’ve travelled throughout the world, I’ve met wonderful people, I’ve done things people my age have never done and I have learned to get absolutely the most out of time.”

The violinist confesses that he inevitably gets nervous before a concert, but he has his own technique to get things under control: “Self-hypnosis. It takes me someplace that is calmer; to a forest, for example, where the sun is shining bright to warm you up and get your circulation going.”

He adds that people “are stronger than we think and our subconscious is always there to help us if we know how to use it.” This youth does not like that some musicians take tranquilisers before their concerts to keep at bay technique problems due to nerves because he believes “this is something completely unnatural, and it leads you directly into a trap.” Jacobo has matured through music, but he is sure that he still has “a lot of room for spiritual growth”. And as for his future as a musician, he is clear about what he wants.

“I picture ending up in a house in the woods, playing for myself and the trees, because I believe you can enjoy music just as much playing in the world’s best orchestra as playing on a street corner, living off the coins people toss you,” he claims. According to Jacobo Christensen, music has taught him “a thousand things”. He stresses that he has also learned that “Everything that begins will also one day end. And all that we can do is enjoy it and take it through to its ending, just like a piece of music.”

By María Martínez | PDF