“To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable.”
- L. V. Beethoven
by Elisa Kafritsas
My parents gave me the name Elisa, in honor of Beethoven's "For Elise", which my mother loved very much, as an Italian twist on my half-Sicilian origins. I started taking piano lessons at the age of 6, strongly encouraged by my Korean mother, who, despite being exhausted after her work shift as a nurse, took me to piano lessons while catching up on her sleep in the next room of the piano room. My teacher, who recognized talent in me, let me perform publicly in the cityhall Göppingen as a 7-year-old girl after just one year of teaching.
As a teenager and young adult, I won a number of first prizes at “Jugend musiziert” piano competitions. The idea of competitions has always been a driving force in me.
I completed my general higher education entrance qualification with, among other things, the advanced course in music with the piano as my main instrument. As a teenager and young adult, I played the piano with the southern German Philharmonie Esslingen and various other orchestras, and also played the flute (my second instrument) with concert appearances.
Then followed a long break from the piano, during which I completed my dental studies, went into my profession after my studies, did my doctorate and started a family.
In 2020, just before the pandemic, the idea of starting playing the piano again after a 21-year break grew in me.
I plucked up all my courage to introduce myself as a "non-music student" to the dean of piano at the University of Stuttgart, Professor Friedemann Rieger, and to ask for piano lessons. He accepted me as a student after an audition and teaches me to this day.
Then the fate of the corona pandemic hit me. My boss gave me short-time work. I used the time and channeled my energy into playing the piano and building my Instagram account @Pianotaste. With a lot of previous experience on Instagram as a dentist, I built a page on Instagram that should serve to bring people joy in pandemic times, motivate them to practice the piano and give them a goal.
I don't see myself as a piano teacher and never have been, but it turned out that people around the world wanted to benefit from my renewed skills as a amateur pianist. This is how the idea of the piano tutorials came about. Other ideas followed, such as online piano competitions, not least because it was very important to me to also offer older adults a platform to take part in competitions (or generally to get back into playing the piano, like me). I had previously realized with great frustration that, as in the fashion industry, only the young generation is internationally promoted in this regard and it is almost impossible for a middle-aged adult to take part in a piano competition. I wanted to change this. With these competitions and challenges, I was able to give a lot of pianists a goal during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the @Pianotaste account went viral on an international level and happily in all age groups, young and old, as I had wished for my page. As a result, even the Stuttgarter Newspaper, the Stuttgarter Newspaper Magazin and the radio station Klassik Radio took notice of me. Interviews and reports followed.
I ventured the step into self-employment and founded a company from it, professionalized it with video/sound recording devices, a professional jury for the piano competitions (concert pianists and professors, e.g. Professor Friedemann Rieger, Professor Laurens Patzlaff, Maximilian Schairer Steinway Artist, Tian Jiang Steinway Artist, Elena Nesterenko Steinway Artist, Congyu Wang, Doriana Tchakarova, Matthieu Bergheau, Giuseppe Devastato) and gave the whole thing a firm foundation with the legal basis, which was very costly and time-consuming due to the international format and the social media platform. I hired the best-known law firm in the social media sector for this. After all, I've been working on @Pianotaste almost 24/7 since then, meanwhile I have an internationally recognized name for Instagram piano competitions with top-class juries and have remained true to my credo that I don't want to charge my followers any money (many of them don't even have a decent keyboard and don't do it nevertheless with!) but everything should be financed through sponsoring. So far I have received sponsorship from Bösendorfer, Kawai, Henle Verlag, Aurio Musikverlag, Skoove and Oktav.
The passion is so great that I have currently given up my job as a dentist, in which I have a doctorate degree.
Every day I receive letters of thanks for my work on @Pianotaste, especially from returnees, from hobby pianists whom I can encourage to dare to try supposedly difficult classical piano pieces, people who just like to listen when I perform a whole piano piece. In April 2021 I had my very first performance after the long piano break (online) at the Zukunftsklang festival.
In the meantime, after the pandemic is slowly receding, I have dared to take the next step, organizing "real" concerts with Pianotaste as a concert organizer. The first concert series "Pianotaste meets..." took place in July 2021 in the Schloss Solitude Gastronomie Stuttgart and was intended to bring piano music to people who might otherwise not attend a piano concert as part of an exclusive 3-course menu.
The event was sponsored by Bösendorfer, among others, and was a complete success despite the pandemic.
Playing piano has unfortunately not always been a part of my life journey. Since I started playing the piano again, a lot of things happened which I'm really proud of.
Started playing the piano as a 6-year-old.
First public performance at the age of 7 in the city hall of Goeppingen.
Won several 1. prizes at piano competitions in the following years until 1999.
21-year piano break after my school graduation because of my studies, my job and then my doctorate (dentist).
Resumption of piano playing. Since February 2020 I’ve been a piano student with Professor Friedemann Rieger (State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart).
Start of @Pianotaste on Instagram in March 2022.
Company foundation @Pianotaste in July 2020.