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Ursula Holliger Print version
HOMMAGE TO URSULA HOLLIGER (1937 – 2014)

Close to the Master
So it's the first loss in our HarpMasters family. And such a great loss indeed!  For any harpist and a musician of any level the opportunity to meet musicians of such scale as Ursula Holiger  is a great gift. I am so grateful  to HarpMasters Academy, which allowed me 7 years ago to get acquainted with this wizard whom we in Russia had known only due to her records and numerous stories of musicians. From the first minutes together all the myths were gone, it seemed we had known each other for many years. The happy coincidence of views and priorities, which we had in common; her kind, almost affectionate attention, readiness to share both our experience and the secrets of mastery. As a treasure  I keep at home a complete score of all the ensembles for oboe and  harp from the repertoire of the legendary Holligers Duo, as well as pieces for harp solo written for Ursula. It was her personal gift to the library of my class. Now this is a relic. I also keep in my memory the moments of fun, when the three of us (Ursula, Skaila  and me) were fooling around, laughing heartily; we talked a lot about music, students, and life. When we met in August 2013 Ursula asked me to take care of my health and not get overloaded with work. Being seriously ill, she continued to be very interested in the harp events of HarpMasters Academy’s schedule and was always very attentive to her colleagues. Alas, this was our last meeting...
We all should be greatful to Ursula, who from the early days not only supported the idea of HarpMasters Academy’s establishment, but wholeheartedly participated in the process of teaching.
I am sure we will all keep the memory of the Wizard forever. And as long as the personality is  remembered - she  LIVES!!!
Milda Agazarian, Russia

I have not met Ursula many times and the two times I really remember our short meetings were at HarpMasters Academy in 2009 and last year in 2013. Last summer I was so touched to see her coming such a long way to listen to my concert and I will always remember the beautiful scarf she gave me after it as this gesture touched my heart deeply. Unfortunately it wasn't possible for us to spend more time together that evening which I regretted very much at the time and even more so now! Ursula will remain in my thoughts as this sweet little extravagant lady who has brought so much to the harp world.
Isabelle Perrin, France

For Ursula Holliger
It is with great sadness that I received the news of Ursula Holliger’s passing.
Since many years ago, I had been very familiar with her name through my studies of contemporary music, and also through the many wonderful recordings she made with other great musicians, but it was in 2004 that I had the opportunity to really get to know her in person, when we both served on the jury of the Munich ARD Competition.
Ursula had a very pure heart, and what always came first was her love and caring for great music and the harp. Because of this, she could be quite strict at times, but I think that was her way of showing her honesty and deep caring for the people around her.
I will always remember the many enjoyable (and long-lasting!) breakfasts we had together in our Munich hotel during the competition. Last year, I was able to see her in Muenchenbuchsee, during the HarpMasters Academy. At this time, I was not aware of her illness and I cannot believe that this was to be the last time I would see her.
Ursula’s great contribution to the harp repertoire and harp world will always be remembered. She was a very special person, and as she touched me, I’m sure that she touched many people’s hearts with her great intelligence, sense of humor, and her pure soul. I wish from my heart, that her soul is resting in peace.
Naoko Yoshino, Japan

“I first met Ursula when I was 14 at the HarpMasters Academy in 2009. I remember being very excited as I had heard many of her recordings over the years. I subsequently saw her again at Harp Masters in 2011 as well as at her home in Basel, where she gave me a very encouraging lesson on Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto. I had the privilege of watching her master classes and I will never forget the energy and rigour that she had despite her age”.
Laura Peh, Singapour


“Ursula was not only a very good harpist, but also a serious and profound musician, a highly educated and respected artist. She was a cultured person, open to the old and, especially, the new arts. Her expertise in modern music was outstanding and without equivalent.
As a professor - I know this from students and colleagues - she was a mature and solid teacher, exigent, severe and inflexible, very well informed and prepared.
As a person – Ursula was a good and dear colleague:  correct, helpful and nice”.
Ion Ivan Roncea,  Romania

"I've had a lesson with Ursula Holliger every time I was at HarpMasters Academy.
The first time I met her - I was impressed: a fragile and active lady who spontaneously played  perfectly Spohr “Fantasie” for me - of course without warming-up.
She was the first to encourage me to follow my own ideas of interpretations.
And she gave me her score of the Britten “Suite” to let me copy it, something that I have treasured ever since."
Elisabeth Plank, Austria


It is with great sadness that I heard that my dear friend Ursula has passed on. She and I became close during my residency at the HarpMasters Academy. She was a passionate advocate of the art of music and strongly supported those of us on the same road and with the same mission in our hearts. I will always remember her warmth and generosity to me and all the students. She has made an incalculable contribution to the promotion of contemporary music for the harp and will be surely remembered as one of the great harpists of our time.
Skaila Kanga, United Kingdom


“I remember working with Ursula Holliger on Heinz Holliger's “Sequences" at the HarpMasters Academy in 2009.  She told me about the piece and its context and was very kind and told me I had done nice work - I felt very honoured! I also remember her Masterclass on M. Grandjany pieces. She talked about the Master and his personality, shared with us some anecdotes with a great sense of humor:  Mrs. Holliger used to talk a lot during a Masterclass - it was her way of doing things and I liked it.
That year Ursula Holliger also participated in a Jazz workshop with Park Stickney - she was extremely interested in his technique and tried a lot of his tricks! She said about some of his fingerings that they were very clever and she tried them out with us !
 At that point I didn't know her personally and wasn't sure if she really was the famous Ursula Holliger. So I just wondered how this fragile lady - who obviously was a very important person - just worked with us like she was a student too. She seemed very young to me, had an open minded mentality and was so genuinely curious. It made her look like a young woman who still has all to discover in the world.
Esther Severac, Switzerland



A Life in Service to Music and Humanity
Everyone has their own task in life. For some people – it is to achieve certain goals. The life of Ursula Holliger, a personality of global calibre, is an encouraging example of dedication to Music and, admirably, has been spent with the goal of positively serving society and Humanity.
A highly intelligent and educated musician, Ursula Holliger’s talent was to passionately serve the Harp. As a true professional, she was uncompromising to her strong and high professional standards, while very generously sharing her encyclopedic knowledge and unique experience with teachers and, of course, the current young generation of harpists.
It was in 2006 when I had the unique opportunity to meet this harp-legend in person and invite her to visit the then just established HarpMasters Academy. Mrs. Holliger kindly excepted the invitation, and since then became a true and devoted friend of HarpMasters Academy. She continuously showed her sincere interest and involvement both in the educational process as well as in the individual progress and achievements of our students. Each year she was very happy to meet her old colleagues-friends as well as to meet new ones – Ursula Holliger had been a guest at most of the Academy’s concerts and events in the past 7 years.
In her colleagues she highly appreciated sincere dedication to music and the harp in particular. It was unacceptable to her to prioritise personal goals and interests or superficial relations with the profession. But she was a passionate supporter of the true arts and artists: music and musicians, painting and painters… With an outstanding social engagement she was a great ambassador for the harp and promoted our instrument with great pride and self-confidence.
Like with any extraordinary person, one feels the magnitude of her loss even more as time goes by… Ursula Holliger was this person. When she was near us, we saw in her a kind, extremely helpful and caring colleague, friend, an educated and sensitive musician, a demanding and correct teacher… When she is not near us – through time and space – we see and feel her even clearer. A solid and determined yet pure personality, strong and rigid spirit, she is without doubt an influence on every one of us.  As time goes on, solid and pure personalities are becoming even bigger – without doubt this can be said about Ursula Holliger.
Ursula Holliger had a great identity and a very particular place not only in the international harp world, but on the music scene of the 20-21st century worldwide. Now this place is empty. It is not possible to take over. We will miss her extraordinary spirit in the HarpMasters family. It is a part of our responsibility to keep it alive in our hearts and to support its continuation to the next generations of artists, and harpists in particular.
Irina Zingg, Switzerland

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