Niklas Pokki


Year of birth: 1976

Home town: Helsinki

1. When did you start playing piano?

I started to play the piano when I was seven.

2. What made you choose piano as your instrument? Does someone else in your family play an instrument?

There are no other musicians in my family. However, we had a piano at home and I liked to play familiar melodies by ear. My parents thought that I might like piano lessons, and that’s how it started. I tried the violin, too, and later played the clarinet for several years, but I never developed such a relationship with those instruments that could be compared with my love for the piano.

3. What does playing piano mean to you?

Practically everything that has anything to do with piano playing or piano music is important to me. I am interested in the history of piano music, analysis, practicing methods, and teaching. I also organize a piano festival and I try to be active in improving piano education both at the Youth Piano Academy and the Sibelius Academy, where I will start soon as the head of the piano department.

4. What is the most important piece of music to you?

There are many. To mention one, I would say Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy.

5. What is your most memorable master class lesson? Why?

Again, there are many. Meeting Professor Emanuel Krasovsky at the Suolahti Master Classes in the mid-1990s led to many wonderful things. Later I participated his master classes in Israel, which was a revelation to me. Meeting so many incredibly good young pianists and inspiring teachers, plus having so many wonderful lessons with Emanuel, changed my relationship to music.

6. What is your most memorable performance? Why?

Funnily enough, I choose the Beethoven Fifth Concerto, like Teppo did. I played it in Germany twice with Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra over ten years ago. The orchestra was so wonderful, and I felt that I could fully express myself. It was very rewarding.

7. Why did you find it important to found the Youth Piano Academy?

We had been talking about the need of this kind of project with Antti and Teppo already a long time before we started it. I believe the project is very important in order to maintain and improve the Finnish pianism. Also, it seems that the way it is organized really works very well. The students have a strong sense of communality, they are inspired, they learn from each other and their rapid artistic and pianistic development never cease to impress me.

8. Which advice would you like to give for the students of the Youth Piano Academy and for the young pianists in general?

To be a good pianist demands many skills. Even if most of the pianist’s work is about learning new pieces quickly and polishing the technically demanding places, there are a lot of other issues that are crucial to a pianist’s work and musicianship. One should know music theory and analysis very well, so that one’s artistic work is enhanced and improved. Sight-reading, solfège, music history, cultural history and other related subjects are also extremely important. Thus, my piece of advice is: be versatile.