Guitarist of the Month: Peter Graneis

“You know the moment you find someone inspirational online? Meet Peter! I met him on Instagram and his playing, as well as his own music really struck a chord with me! Every time I see something from him pop up on my feed, it inspires me to play and sight read some stuff on my classical guitar ❤️ It is lovely to find an inspiring classical musician and at least in my side of things – it is a rarity. So if you’d like to dip your toes in this world, read the interview below ?– Neli

How would you describe your journey as a musician so far – where it started and how you got to where you are now?

I don’t exactly know when I wanted to become a professional musician, but I guess I always had a very natural connection with my instrument. I started learning the guitar at the age of 9 in a music school and practiced every single day right from the get-go. Once I started realizing that my playing was on a competitive level I started thinking about making this my job, probably when I was about 15, 16. I entered into the program for young talents in the university for music in Stuttgart where I later studied my bachelor and it all felt like a very straight line up until my last graduation a few years ago. 

I think I learned a lot in my studies and always got inspired by my teachers and my peers, but no one ever had to hold my hand or motivate me to practice, learn repertoire, compete or record. And the longer I studied, the more I sought to be as self reliant as possible, because you hardly learn about how to entertain a career in your studies – and that’s basically where I am now. Playing concerts, trying to come up with interesting programs, practicing, finding repertoire, organizing my schedule, recording, making transcriptions, teaching.

How would you describe classical guitar to an aspiring musician who is discovering themselves and trying to navigate the sea of genres?

I think the genre is huge despite being a rather unknown niche in the musical cosmos. You could probably subdivide the entire genre into two sections: music that’s originally composed for the guitar and music that is adapted for the instrument.

The original compositions reach from cheesy romantic and virtuosic compositions through avant-garde compositions of the last century to exciting contemporary music, and folklore-inspired music that’s inspired by flamenco or South American rhythms.

The music that’s transcribed for guitar can technically be anything, but the most popular adaptations are music written for lute, violin and cello repertoire, or pieces for harpsichord.

Photo by: Alex Wunsch

You have studied music at several different institutions in different countries (Germany, Spain, The Netherlands). How did that affect your playing, does the approach to music learning differ based on the country?

That’s a great question. I chose to study in those places because of the teachers there: Johannes Monno in Stuttgart, Zoran Dukić in Barcelona and The Hague. And my teachers definitely had the biggest influence on my playing. But I definitely noticed that music is perceived differently in the countries I went to. The guitar is obviously much more popular in Spain than in the other places I studied, and the concert atmosphere in The Hague was much more relaxed than in Germany for instance, where every student concert was very formal. 

You recently released your LP OSTINATO. How did it come together?

It’s very important to me to find programs that have a deeper meaning beyond consisting of nice-sounding pieces. So in this case I was looking for repertoire that deals with the ostinato structure (=repetitive rhythms) in different ways. I wanted to explore the variation that comes through repetition rather than monotony. So I put together a bunch of more known and lesser-known repertoire and turned it into an LP that’s now available. [link to LP]

You have also released your debut CD ‘Portrait’ back in 2017. What changed in your style and creative process between the two projects?

My first CD was mostly about experiencing the endeavor that is producing your own CD. Instead of doing it all myself I hired a bunch of lovely professional people such as the sound engineer, photographer, designer and a production company and recorded a wide range of repertoire to cover the broadest possible spectrum of my work. It taught me a lot about the process and I still work with all of these people on recurring projects. 

Photo by: Lei Huang

Having participated and won numerous international guitar competitions, what has the world of music contests taught you?

Competitions can be a great tool if you use them correctly. Which means: you can learn to absolutely perfect your repertoire, and perform it under the most difficult circumstances and under the biggest pressure imaginable. 

But in order to achieve that you have to really try and practice lots, listen to criticism, learn about your strengths and weaknesses as a performer, change your repertoire until the pieces suit you perfectly, overcome a ton of disappointing outcomes in competitions (dropping out, playing badly occasionally). And after a bunch of rough competitions it might just be enough to win a couple of prizes. But even without that, a great reward can be to become a more self-aware and stable player. 

Which is the most memorable experience of your musical journey so far?

Playing in venues abroad and being recognized by people that came to my concerts to hear me play. Very surreal, very touching.

What is your dream musical project?

The next one!

Follow Peter here:

Featured photo by: Reiner Pfisterer

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