The Catholic newspaper and website Bernardinai has published an interview with long-time Lithuanian Jewish Community member and pinaist professor Leonidas Melnikas as part of a series of articles and interview about ethnic minorities in Lithuania partially financed by Lithuania’s Department of Ethnic Minorities.
“In childhood when we used to visit homes as guests and we didn’t find a piano in a home, that was strange to me, how people could live without a musical instrument. In general at the time the profession of musician was highly esteemed, and musicians were a bit freer than people in other professions. If you’re playing Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all the time, no one can complain about your politics, only about your music.
“From the very first grade I attended the Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis School of Art in Vilnius. It was my parents’ joy I did music, and their encouragement helped me overcome the initial barriers, but later some inertia came up, it came up in the 8th grade which was competitive, and they had to chose who stayed and who would pursue something else. I stayed. There weren’t many people in my class, we graduated, it seems, eleven of us, so the relationship between student and teacher was very familiar and friendly, there was a lot of attention. We studied a somewhat different curriculum than they did at other schools, we studied musical things from the first grade and they kept increasing, and in the 10th grade we completed general education disciplines–chemistry, physics, mathematics–and in the 11th grade we only had social and humanitarian topics left, and music of course.”
Full story in Lithuanian here.