Milos Karadaglic: No bombs but still fretting

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The Independent Culture

Next week sees the release of the debut CD of a young Montenegrin guitarist whose playing is as gracefully distinguished as his dark good looks. For those of us who heard Milos Karadaglic's Wigmore Hall recital last year, the impending stardom of this remarkable musician will come as no surprise.

He began playing at the precise moment when the Balkans were erupting into civil war.

"I decided life had to be about more than fear and hardship," he tells me. "But at that point I didn't even dream of becoming a professional classical musician – I was part of the first generation in my country to have the opportunity to play classical music at a professional level."

After enrolling at a specialist music school, he learned too fast for his teachers, getting through six of them in the first three months. As Nato bombs were falling, he phoned the Royal Academy in London, and discovered that applications were at that moment closing for the following year: "So I filmed myself playing my repertoire in our living room, five days in a row, recording one piece at a time." Accepted for a scholarship on the basis of that film, he moved rapidly through the ranks, winning the Academy's Julian Bream prize, and the status of a professor.

He's now clear about his main objective: "Since Julian Bream has stopped performing and commissioning new works, there is a huge gap which needs to be filled. We love the standard repertoire, but it's nowhere near as big as the repertoires for the piano or violin. When Segovia was commissioning, the guitar was respected as the equal to any other instrument – we now need to get back to that situation now."

The commissions he already has under his belt suggest that the guitar has found its ideal champion in him.

'Milos' is released by Deutsche Grammophon on 12 April