Rosa Hartley

RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar 2019

British violinist Rosa Hartley will pursue further studies at a conservatoire in Berlin this Autumn with the support of the RPS Julius Isserlis Scholarship.

We asked her to tell us why she's passionate about music and to share her favourite experiences as a performer.

Why is music important to you?

I’ve been around music for as long as I can remember. My parents both play musical instruments. My mother plays trombone and is an academic music teacher, and my father plays jazz guitar. I first expressed interest in playing violin when I was 4 or 5 years old (much to the disappointment of my mum who wanted me to play a brass instrument!), and I knew from quite a young age that music was my passion. And since then it has just become my way of life, as opposed to what I do as a profession.

What has been your most inspiring experience? Musical or non-musical.

I’ve been lucky to have had so many inspiring musical experiences! I am constantly inspired by the musicians I get to collaborate with, whether it’s in small chamber music settings or larger ensembles. I’m fortunate to have been able to work with incredible world-class musicians such as Leonidas Kavakos and James Ehnes. And of course my teacher, György Pauk, inspires me in every lesson – he has been such a huge influence and I am so grateful to him. Recently I’ve been playing as an academist with Budapest Festival Orchestra. Watching the way conductor Ivàn Fischer programmes and curates these concerts is incredible to me, for example he gets the orchestra involved theatrically by singing in Bartok’s Folk Songs, and in Stravinsky’s Tango, two players come out from the orchestra and dance. He always plans out every single detail beyond just the music. And in the concerts, the orchestra puts so much energy, passion and excitement into their performances, which has been overwhelmingly inspiring and refreshing to me, not to mention their kindness outside of the rehearsals and concerts.

Outside of classical music, I love going to watch jazz music. My dad is a jazz guitarist and I grew up with jazz all around the house. Although I never pursued it myself I still love to listen.

Aside from music, I love going to art exhibitions, walking in the mountains or by the sea, away from the hectic city life.

What's the best thing about being a performer, and what are the difficulties of the job?

As performers we are so close personally to what we do every day; it’s an emotional process! We spend so much time alone with our instruments, trying to get our playing to the highest possible standard. We then have to translate what the composer has written, make musical decisions, and by going into this world we become part of the creative process. Although as performers we are playing the music that the composer has written and are not changing this, I still love the idea that we as performers are able to have an influence on the direction the music goes in. And there are endless musical possibilities! It’s so exciting to be able to explore these possibilities, but if there isn’t enough time to get into the details, it can sometimes be frustrating.

There are so many amazing things about our profession. One of the best things about being a performer is the people you meet and the collaborations made. And the energy of being on stage is so exciting. Not to mention the amazing works of music we get to play. Perhaps one of the most difficult things is the lifestyle - it is hard work! Weekends don’t exist for us. We have to constantly be preparing music: learning new repertoire, maintaining and developing old repertoire, or rehearsing and catching up on administration. But I am also so lucky to be able to travel to so many different places around the world and to constantly surround myself in new environments.

If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing instead?

Music has always been an intrinsic part of my life so it is very difficult for me to answer this question! But I love languages and travelling, so I would probably do something involving these. I also recently started painting as a hobby, and I also love cooking. I think I would have to be creative in finding a career that involves all of these activities – perhaps an international food critic, where I paint pictures of the food I have eaten alongside the column...


Rosa is currently studying for her Masters in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music with Professor György Pauk.

To read Rosa's full biography, click here.