Filip Pogády, born 1987
Filip Pogády was born in Bratislava in 1987. His father, Peter, is a physician and his mother, Silvia, stayed home to raise Filip and his older sister, Petra. When Filip was four years old, his family moved to Linz, Austria; however he says that he remained connected to Slovakia as he often spent summers and vacations with his grandparents and other relatives. Filip began playing the violin at age seven and gained success at national competitions. He focused his studies on music, leaving high school at age 16. In 2009, Filip earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He moved to New York City after being offered the opportunity to study with Pinchas Zukerman at the Manhattan School of Music, and received his master’s degree in violin performance in 2011. For a short time, Filip was signed to Ford Models.
Today Filip is a professional violinist playing concerts in New York City and throughout the country. Although classically trained, he has more recently taken up the electric violin. Since 2005, Filip has performed regularly with the Slovak Philharmonic. He is also a teacher for the Harmony Program, a non-profit organization that provides music lessons for economically-disadvantaged students in New York City. Filip often returns to Europe for performances and to visit family and friends, but says that his current plans are to stay in Manhattan.
Filip has retained a strong link to his Slovak heritage
“I was four years old when my family moved to Austria so, of the Slovakian part of my life, I don’t really remember that much. But the connection was always there with grandparents and going to Slovakia for the summer holidays. The connection with Slovakia was still very big; of course, [we were] speaking only Slovakian at home. I feel very Slovak still.”
Filip was a keen violinist from an early age
“I’ve practiced so many hours in my life. Thinking about it, it’s just crazy, but I always had fun doing it. Nobody had to force me or anything. I like comparing it to when teenagers play PlayStation or Xbox or video games. For me, that was really the violin. I actually enjoyed it; it wasn’t really work. I liked exploring it, playing around with it, finding out new things and experimenting with hand positions – all kinds of things. It was always very entertaining to me; I loved it.”
Filip talks about the importance of playing an instrument and its impact on him
“I was always wondering what kind of person I would have become if I didn’t play music, if I would really be the same person; I came to the conclusion probably not, because of this whole analytical approach you have when you play an instrument; you really analyze things. There are so many things that go beyond the actual making of the music part and playing the instrument on the physical level. I think there is something much deeper to it. It has been proven that playing an instrument helps kids learn quicker and do better in school, but I think on the human level it’s so important to grow. I cannot really explain it, but I think it really makes a difference.”
Filip discusses his sense of identity
“I’ve been wondering about that quite a bit. Now, I came to the conclusion because, in the music world, I know so many Eastern Europeans in general. Polish, Russians, Czechs – all these people. So I came to the conclusion that I feel like an Eastern European, like a Slavic person, not just a Slovakian. It’s kind of the bigger picture. Now I also speak Russian pretty well because of friends, and Polish, because I had so many friends in Vienna who are from Poland, so I kind of do consider myself something like that. Eastern European in a bigger way.”
When Filip arrived in the United States, he felt very welcome
“I think definitely, yes. I think Americans love foreigners in general. They are just so fascinated by non-Americans, it seems like. When I got to college it was a well-known fact – everybody told me ‘Oh you have an accent; girls are going to love you’ – that American girls love accents on guys. It’s a little detail but it kind of shows how they think of foreigners, especially Europeans. I think they are just fascinated by it. I definitely think that I was embraced well by New York and by the States, just because people are so friendly to foreigners and so open-minded to all kinds of people, all kinds of ethnicities.”
Category: New York City, Oral History