28 Jul

How does a Czechoslovakian Count, living in Kloof, spend his time? We chatted to Count Filip Kormuth to find out

Story Brigitta Simpson

An evening in the presence of Count Filip Kormuth, concert pianist, becomes an intense emotional journey when he gently strokes the keys of his piano, mesmerising the audience with compositions by famous composers, as well as his own work. Piece after piece is performed with technical precision, translating into a unique interpretation of his own, intended to touch every soul in the audience.

Performer, composer and pedagogue, Filip is a count without a castle. Born in Prague in 1981 to a Slovak family of noble Croatian descent, they immigrated to South Africa in 1993. An entire wall in the family sitting room is covered in authenticated certificates and coats of arms, portraying the noble origins of the Kormuth-Jazcovics clan going back as far as 1611. It was then that nobility was bestowed upon them as a reward for bravely fighting in battle. Their ancient ancestors resided in the medieval town of Dechtice, which was burnt down and with it the ancestral castle. All that remained was a noble title, which makes Filip Kormuth the 18th count of the Jazcovics line.

Growing up in Prague, Ct. Filip’s musical talent was apparent from an early age and he not only started to learn the finer art of playing the piano at eight years old, he was also taught composition, laying the foundation for his future musical career. To date, he has more than 100 performances under his belt, playing both at home and abroad. To engage effectively with the audience, he believes in enjoying himself in front of the piano, relating a tale whilst playing.

“Music is story,” says the count, “packaged within the musical notes and patterns of a piece.” He feels he has reached his audience when it becomes a therapeutic experience for them, reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Over and above performing, composing is the life blood of his music. He composes for his own portfolio, but also writes for local musicians, choirs and film makers. It is through a friend that he was alerted that his compositions were essentially rooted in dance, and he has subsequently composed a number of ballets and inevitably plunges into creating dance pieces, such as Rainy Tango, when writing his own works.

Filip’s inherent passion for dance spills over in being an avid dancer himself, participating in ballroom dancing and teaching the art of the Cuban Rueda (a type of Salsa). He thoroughly enjoys spending an evening with friends and other interested parties dancing the night away at Tina’s Hotel, imparting his expertise free of charge.

Count Kormuth’s passion for teaching is tangible. He holds a Masters Degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Natal, where he also lectured for 10 years. He has also obtained the prestigious Piano Performance Licentiate from UNISA and is currently working towards a PhD.

At his studio in Kloof, he teaches piano to students aged six to 60 and is music educator at Maris Stella School. Whereas he teaches to share his knowledge, he feels that the teaching process has had a profound influence on his own playing and technical skills, and has afforded him the opportunity to grow as a musician. “To be successful, one has to know oneself and one’s craft,” he says.

The count believes in giving back to the community and has performed for charitable causes, such as the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, Neema Foundation and EmboCraft, donating a fair percentage of his earnings.

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