April 20, 2024

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Rolf Kühn – The grandmaster of the jazz clarinet: Videos

The greatest motivation of the jazz clarinettist Rolf Kühn is his curiosity. He always wants to break new ground and, at 88 years of age, by no means ceases to develop. For this he continues to work together with young musicians.

Rolf Kühn is not at all familiar with repeating the familiar. The jazz clarinetist, who turns 89 in September, exercises at least two hours disciplined every day. And he’s always practicing new things: “For me discipline means: I have to practice discipline in order to improve my education in this instrument, which is not a standstill – for God’s sake, that’s boring! Why should I play the things I did in 1956? It’s a constant evolution and you get to know the instrument better every day. ”

That he knew his instrument pretty well and mastered it quite early, becomes clear when one hears with whom he has played: 1956 Rolf Kühn goes to New York for six years and meets there as well as all who jazz in the rank and have names. He plays with the stars, learns with them and eventually becomes a star himself.

One of the greats of jazz
“The great musicians who live in New York, or rather, who live in New York – you have to bring tremendous quality to get involved at all – I found that appealing, I met all the people and joined them played with them, with whom I wanted to interact. ” He names Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughn and Chet Baker. But there have been many more with whom he played at the famed Club Birdland or Carnegie Hall in the late 1950s.

At some point he moved back to Germany. Among other things, he returned to the RIAS Berlin, where in 1950 he was the first saxophonist of the Tanzorchester. In Europe he played among others with Caterina Valente and also composed film music.

It always tempts him to try out new forms of music. Recently, Kühn has recorded a CD with a Croatian cellist. Even today you can hear him in a duo with his brother Joachim, a 14 years younger pianist. In addition, he plays regularly in a group with three young musicians, which makes him a lot of fun.

“My childhood wish was to become an acrobat”
Although Kühn was not born into a family of musicians, he grew up in the musical environment of the city of Leipzig: “Leipzig was really a very traditional city in the history of music, which can not be said of all the major cities in this country.”

Nevertheless, his career aspiration as a child goes in a completely different direction: Kühn wants to be like his father acrobat. Father and uncle worked together as acrobats in variety shows and took little Rolf to the training practically every day: “At least five to six hours a day, mostly after school – that was hard training, but of course I loved that job There was nothing unusual about it, as artists grew up that way. ”

At the same time he felt attracted to music as a child. The father gave him to try out various instruments. Kühn stayed with the clarinet. In the National Socialism took him as a so-called half-Jews – his mother was Jewish – no music school, he received secret private lessons. The fact that the mastery of the instrument except the lessons and the practice belongs, he discovered only after he had already played a few years.

Today he comes to practice almost daily in the building of the former RIAS, the house of Deutschlandfunk culture, with which he has been connecting so much since the 50s.

Jazz-Legende Rolf Kühn posiert bei Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin am 25.09.2014. (picture alliance / dpa / Paul Zinken)

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