Alexandra Soumm loves Franz Liszt. She looks to the Hungarian composer as a role model, not only in terms of music — he was incredibly gifted — but also humanity. „He said we have to play for all people,“ the young violinist explains. „He even said we should teach music to everybody for free.“
Almost 130 years after Liszt’s death, Alexandra Soumm tries to help make his dream come true. Like her 19th century inspiration, she, too, is considered a prodigy (at nearly 26 years of age, she already has performed as a soloist with several of the world’s top orchestras, including the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and London Philharmonic). Her thoughts, though, lie outside famous symphony halls and audiences sparkling in jewels and evening attire.
Liszt’s companion, Carolyne zu Sayn Wittgenstein, once said Liszt had „genius in abundance, but (he) was was missing discipline.“ In this, Alexandra differs dramatically: No flighty ambitions mire her talent; rather, her steady, strong will fortifies it. „I have gone against the tide many times,“ she says.
„My love for giving music to the people started when I was six,“ Alexandra recalls. „I told my dad I wanted to go to Africa an play for poor children. He just looked at me as if I was crazy.“ She never let go of the idea, of sharing music. Though yet to make it to Africa, someday she will go.
But first, she focused on sharing music within France, her second home country. Her family had emigrated from Russia to France when Alexandra was about two years old; at five, her father, a violinist, began teaching her the art, setting her on a path to follow (overtake, actually) in the footsteps of her musician grandfather, also a violinist, and mother, a pianist. Alexandra performs to rounding applause on grand stages and in beautiful concert halls. But found herself wondering, „How come I never see homeless or handicapped people (at my performances)? And where are all the children?“
In 2006, she toured with an orchestra across Paris that played in the banlieues, impoverished suburbs. „I figured, these people wouldn’t come to me, so I have to go to them.“