Classic notes


A nation without art and music is a blind and deaf nation,” says Franck Bernede, celloist from France.

He was in the city recently for a cello recital organised by Alliance Francaise. Though cello is alien to us and the Western classical phenomenon has yet to take seep into the Nepali taste, his performance was successful in giving the needed curtain raiser to Western classical tunes.

Hailing from a very musical background, Bernede’s whole family is into music with four generation of musicians.

“Music is the main activity in our house and everything else revolves around it. Most of my family members are violinists, while my mother is a opera singer,” he informs.

So, how come someone from a family violinists got interested in cello?

“Actually violin has a high note, then comes viola and then cello. I always liked the low note and as I have big hand and fingers, my father advised me to learn the cello,” says Bernede, who first started to learn cello at the age of seven and completed his course at the age of 25.

He came to Nepal in mid 80’s because he was very much interested in Himalayan music of India. He made his way to Nepal, but visited Kathmandu only a decade later. “Europeans are very curious about different cultures and I am here to promote Nepali music abroad. I am trying to be that bridge and I hope the government here understands that and helps in my work,” he says.

“Here there is a vast world of various cultures but I have felt that people here don’t try to involve others in their culture, and that is keeping the development of music. You just need to push a little and be open towards globalisation. I cannot see any interest among Nepalis in Western classical. When I was doing the show, I was in search of a pianist but it was almost impossible to find one. I asked help from my foreigner friend. Recently in Sri Lanka, I saw their interest in Western classical and improvements they are making. Even here, the Jazz Conservatory is doing great, and if similar steps are taken in Western classical, changes can be brought about soon,” he adds.

Bernarde is fascinated by the Newari culture and civilisation and finds it vast and wonderful. “Richness of festival all around the year is just so beautiful,” he says.

He likes Shyam Nepali and Manoj Singh a lot among Nepali musicians.

About his preference in Wersten classical he said, “Western classical is based on harmony and very vast domain. It’s difficult to say what I like the best. Russian music is extremely expressive whereas French is little bit more distant. German music has romantic connection with literature, writers influence the music direct or indirectly.”

When he was in his teens he liked the compositions by Russian composer Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, when he was 25 he was into 17th and 18th century Broque, and nowadays he likes Romantic and Post Romantic French music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Apart from music he is also very much interested in the old form of art — be it paintings, cinema or literature. He is much fascinated by Chinese paintings, and the relation between art and religion they depict.