Reaching for Stars With the Piano – When Dreams Become Reality

The virtuoso pianist talks about her love for the piano, role models, plans and challenges in the world of classical music

Mina Krajnović Rusché, pianist

Mina Krajnović Rusché graduated from musical high school in the class of Professor Olga Jovanović, finished her undergraduate studies in the class of Nevena Popović and got her Master’s degree in the class of Professor Vladimir Milošević at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade. She collaborated with many eminent musicians. During her education, she won 57 awards at both national and international competitions. Mina also performed in 5 solo concerts at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Kolarac Gallery, ArtGet and Progres and performed at over 100 music festivals and concerts, as a soloist or as a member of chamber ensembles. She was a regular member of the ‘Chosen for the Chosen’ cycle, run by Vladimir Stojnić. Mina is also the brand ambassador of Strauss Rottman musical instruments. In addition to classical music, she also arranges and composes pop and film music and is a full-time professor at the Marko Tajčević Music School.

Could you tell us something about your upbringing in a musical family and when exactly did you fall in love with the piano?

I grew up in a family that always listened to good music, but still, when it comes to working professionally, I was the one who ‘broke the ice’. The piano is my first and greatest love and my ‘longest relationship’. I knew without a doubt that that was what I wanted when at the age of six, I heard the pianist Aleksandar Dujin play. That was it! My parents soon made my wish come true. My eyes were set on the piano and nothing else. That’s how it was then and that’s how it is now. I have invested my whole being into playing the piano.

During your studies, you won numerous awards at prestigious international competitions. Which award would you single out as the most significant and what do those victories mean to you?

When I was still in school, and depending on the period and my life stages, awards had different meanings. Competition is like racing. Sometimes I entered competitions knowing that I would be judged by a professor who sometimes knew how to annoy and challenge me (perhaps that was the reason), sometimes because of the competition and sometimes out of spite. Whatever the reason was, love was always at the base of it. I cried countless times playing the piano, just because a thought of how important the piano is to me entered my head. The most important awards for me are the ones that confirmed my resolve to accomplish something I thought I could never accomplish.

The piano is my first and greatest love

You collaborated with eminent musicians during your career. What were your experiences like? Did any of them particularly influence you?

I met and collaborated with many eminent musicians, performers and professors, but no one left such a big mark and seal on me as my teacher from elementary and high school, my „musical mother“, as I like to call her – Olga Jovanović. I could write three books about her, but all I am going to say is that every emotion I give while playing, would not have been able to find its way out if she had not taught me that. Other teachings were merely ‘academic’.

In addition to classical music, you are also involved in more modern genres. What does the process of creating and arranging pop and film music look like?

It’s a wonderful process that gives me all the freedom in the world to create and enjoy. As in life, I “complicate” things in music, making my own rhapsodies on the subject, but that’s my personal signature. I like to joke that my arrangements are my children – I shape and nurture them every day.

What is the position of women in the world of classical music today? What challenges do talented pianists like you face?

I grew up in another world and then I suddenly became ‘exposed’ to this one, which I have a lot of objections to, especially as a girl walking on a trail that she blazed for herself. But I’m that crazy girl who continues to clear her path and dodge obstacles, and along the way, I like to thank myself for never giving up on little Mina’s dreams.

What was your collaboration with Stefan Zdravković like? How did the idea of playing in his music video for the song “Divna” come about?

Stefan is a wonderful human being, a great musician and a colleague with whom I would always collaborate again. When he invited me to participate in the recording of his song and another guest appearance, I told him that I was building a solo career and that I would not like to appear as a piano accompaniment or a member of a band. But there are only very few people I want to play with today and he is one of them. Fun fact – Stefan and I were born on the same day, September 29th!

What motivates you the most in music? Which artists are your role models?

Inspiration is all around us. It is all about how we absorb and how much we ‘feel the feelings’. I feel everything on the tenth degree. As for musical role models, there were quite a few over the years, not only from the world of classical music. I am a huge fan of Freddie Mercury, a real fan, the kind that would turn back time, only to touch him and then not wash my hands for the next three years. Queen’s songs catapult me into space and give me zest and confidence when I need it.

Own your desire and fight for it as if your life depends on it because it does

What advice would you give to young musicians who are just starting their journey in the world of music? How can they stay committed to realizing their dreams despite the challenges they may encounter?

I beg the new, young generations to never become ‘indifferent’ because it is not the same and despite the trends that dictate that you have to be ‘cool’, to never become ‘cool’. That would be my appeal and my cry. When you love and want something, be aware of it, own your desire and fight for it as if your life depends on it because it does.

What are your plans and wishes for your career? What are you currently working on and what are you most looking forward to?

I think I am on the threshold of a new chapter and I hope or rather I believe that I will bring the best of myself now. And I am extremely happy about that.


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