Vladimir Jablokov — in his own words

Vladimir Jablokov — in his own words

Vlad the Lad, booted and suited

INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED VIOLINIST Vladimir Jablokov returns to 3Arena in Dublin for his Viennese Christmas Gala Concert on Sunday, December 17.

The Christmas spectacular with over 150 performers on stage features Vladimir’s concert orchestra, choir, special guest vocalists, Viennese ballroom dancers and members of Vladimir’s Slovakian family.

Jablokov has lived in Ireland for 19 years. His wife Nicola is Irish — she is a nurse and was a frontline worker during the pandemic. His four children have all been born in Ireland.


. . . in his own words . . . .


Any slow movements or pieces by Paganini sends a shiver down my spine. He was the greatest composer of romantic themes, even though he was mainly associated with virtuoso playing. Having said that, the one piece of music I would love to have written Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s got drama and romance all mixed together.

My dad Alexander Jablokov was the biggest influence on my career, on my playing. He travelled the world as a soloist and his humility always kept his music artistically authentic. Even after quitting my studies early, I would continue playing for him, getting lessons until he passed away in 2021. My mum and dad were both classical violinists. I grew up not having much of a choice other than music. As a teenager, I fought this! At 16 I discovered Eminem and other rappers. I didn’t understand a single word of English, but just loved the groove. But in the end I chose music which I am very happy about.

I am from central Europe; living on an island these last 19 years has been a very different experience. But I love living in rural Ireland and I even love Irish weather now. I came to Ireland as an adult, but had spent my childhood and teen years in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia — a land-locked country. In fact a double-land-locked country where you have to go through at least two other countries to get to the sea. So basically in Bratislava it was all about studies or adventure in the Danube forests and here I came to live my professional life. It's a very creative ground. I love offshore fishing near the White Strand in West Clare.

I’m a one hundred per cent fan of opera. As a young boy, I toured the world opera stages with the Bratislava Boys Choir. I will never forget the fun we had backstage at the Vienna State Opera House or at the age of 12 travelling around Japan for over a month staying in different hotels every two or three nights. One opera we performed a lot and which stands out is Puccini's Tosca. Back then the drama was always on and off the stage!

As a youngster, I have memories of my grandmother teaching me French. She was a very accomplished linguist. In my teenage years, I travelled to France a lot with the Bratislava Boys choir and enjoyed any opportunity to use my French. It was the first foreign language apart from my native languages. I am sorry I didn't keep it going and now my French has pretty much vanished. I still like the sound of it though

The piano is the other instrument I wish I could play. It is incredibly versatile. I can play some basics, but for whatever reason my brain doesn't allow me to progress any further with the separation of the two hands.

My current violin is made by Bulgarian luthier called Vlado Tilev. It's a new instrument I got in 2019. I played some of the older instruments before, but I found this one really suits me. This luthier was recommended to me by my dad's friend Mincho Minchev who is an excellent violinist and plays on one of the original Stradivarius violins. So he knows what he’s talking about.

My most treasured possession is a bow I inherited from my dad. It's not only the value, but it's the memory and continues the tradition of the family. He toured the world playing with it and now I'm doing the same.

I think my motto would have to be: live today, enjoy every moment and as much as you think the younger generation is the lost one, don’t criticise them.

It’s hard to pick out a favourite conductor. We had one recording of Mozart's requiem with Berlin Philharmonics conducted by Herbert von Karajan and in that sense, I'd say it would be him. However, when it comes to his attitude to players, I probably wouldn't like him as much.

In my opinion traditional music and classical music can’t really be compared — they can both reach their own heights. I think there is something very unique when you marry these two styles and create works like Hungarian Dances by Brahms or Romanian Dances by Bartok.

Back in school I met many musicians with a Romany background and I had a chance to hear the traditional gypsy music played in the most original way. Traditional music can complement classical and vice versa.

My grandmother is the living person I most admire. She never fails to speak the sometimes irreverent truth and make me laugh. She has seen unmentionable things in her life, lived through terrible times, yet she really celebrates and enjoys the simple things right there in front of her.

At any award ceremony — if I ever get a big award — I’ll thank my wife, kids, parents, grandmother, two rabbits and of course all my loyal supporters.

Generations back in my family there were really successful tradespeople. If I wasn’t a musician I think I would be good at trading goods.

The best thing about living in Ireland is the productive temperate climate. You can really work here without the need for a siesta.

I’d say the greatest lesson life has taught me is stay focused and just keep swimming. I love both my wife and children in great, equal and different ways. I love my violin as it has allowed me to carve out a career I enjoy.

Vladimir Jablokov in Fiddler on the Roof in the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, 2011 (picture Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie)