Composer and Pianist Hania Rani – The Passion of Music
By Liam Klenk
Hania Rani is a musician from Poland. Over a period of twenty years, Hania experienced a strict classical music education. She is a gifted pianist as well as a composer and has, over the years, found fulfillment as well as success in composing and performing her own music.
During our interview, Hania spoke about the importance and meaning of music in her life:
Music is the biggest part of my life and has been for a long time.
I appreciate it and enjoy it so much.
As a little kid, I experienced music first at home. That’s why it is something very natural for me.
Music brings joy and happiness into my life.
My parents aren’t musicians. But they love music and art. And they love people. They are very interested in people and the world. So, one thing I learned at home is that you can make music by singing and playing together. And you can communicate, you can express yourself through music.
With these memories, a sense of simple beauty has stayed with me throughout my life. Best summed up, music brings me to my safe place.
The way I grew up, I thought it was the most natural thing in the world to go to music school at some point. I thought every kid goes.
Only later did I grasp that, in fact, it is only a few of us who end up making music the centre of our lives.
I grew up in Gdańsk, in Poland. The music school there was very good and easy to join. They had special activities for kids, and that’s how it all started to take shape for me.
My parents didn’t expect me to stay for a long time. They thought, after primary school, I’ll want to go to regular school.
But, I really found my passion for music in those first few years of learning as a child. Even practicing was fun for me.
I also found many friends in music school who shared my passion. I wanted to stay and, even back then, was already sure that I also wanted to go to music university.
At first, my parents were surprised and also a bit worried about my future. They worried about how I would financially support myself in the future. But they always supported me a lot.
It is something I really appreciate now, looking back. Music always brought me a lot of freedom. I didn’t feel too much pressure. The core, the essence of music brought me joy, peace, and freedom.
Whereas the pure nature of music made it easy for me to follow my way, it wasn’t always an easy way. Altogether, from my first piano lessons, to finishing university in Berlin, I studied classical music for twenty years.
These were very specific studies. Classical music is a subject that is, by its nature, quite traditional and strict. This was fascinating, but also difficult and hard.
You study the classical world of music and learn how to perform other people’s compositions.
To be honest, I was very good, but I wasn’t the best. I was very ambitious and frustrated. The fact that I couldn’t be perfect, that I wasn’t good enough or skilled enough, made me sad.
I felt profoundly confused because, on the one hand, I really loved music, but this way of performing it and this strict education didn’t really match my personality.
So, I found myself in a rather difficult position as well.
However, throughout my studies I came across coincidences, opportunities, and ideas to to be creative and stretch the limits. To not just interpret someone else’s compositions but to also try to create something of my own.
I always jumped at these coincidences and took these opportunities.
As time progressed, I found myself to be more of a composer than a performing artist.
Finding success through my own compositions began after my bachelor…
My friend, Dobrawa Czocher, a cellist, asked me if I wanted to rearrange the songs of Grzegorz Ciechowski, a very famous, dead, Polish rock star. I loved the idea and wanted to create an instrumental version for piano and cello.
We rearranged his music and performed it at a festival.
A journalist from a popular Polish radio station was at the festival. He liked what we did and offered us to play a full concert at the radio station… and to broadcast it live.
We did the concert and an overwhelming number of people listened. The reactions were so positive that we decided to record our first album.
The wheels started turning quickly because I was very encouraged with our success. Plus, I greatly enjoyed playing our own arrangements and tunes.
I immediately began to look for more opportunities. We did several projects together. Of course, it all took its time and sounds easier than it was, but it was a wonderful, life-changing process.
Then I went to do my masters in Berlin, still studying classical piano.
Moving to Berlin was difficult for me and at the same time another life-changing moment.
In a way it was quite ironic, because I made it through the entry exams and moved to a foreign country with a specific aim in my mind, only to then quickly realize that this aim was no longer current.
Berlin was the place where I finally realized without a doubt that I don’t want to play traditional, classical music anymore. It was there I knew I wanted to make my own music.
I think it was the culture and mentality in Berlin which augmented this thought process.
Berlin is a very welcoming city and it is amazing how natural and free people can feel in this place. I observed many people on the streets and in the metro. And had the feeling that in Berlin you can be whatever you want. You can have a regular job, or be a crazy DJ, or an artist, or a free spirit. This vibe I found gave me the sign to follow my own heart as well.
Sharing in Berlin’s culture for a while was such a freeing experience. Just to see how people live their life. It changed my way of thinking. Which would never have happened to this extent had I stayed in Poland.
Berlin, this multi-cultural and free place really affected my dreams. And I allowed myself to dream big.
Overall, as you can see, focusing on my own music was a slow decision, made over the course of many years.
Partly, this had to do with a fear of being rejected. I thought the classical music society won’t respect me anymore. I worried they might believe my endeavors to be banal.
Finding my own voice was like coming out in a way. And it was incredibly difficult for me. For a long time, I struggled with a decision. I was afraid my fellow musicians might say “You’ve chosen the easy way.” It took me a while to take a stand.
Nowadays, I live from my own music. And when I do perform, I perform my own music.
And, what I now know as well, with experience, is to believe in my own way. What I do is as difficult as traditional classical music. It is as valid.
I feel, I am the lucky one. There are many talented people. I have a lot of luck in my life in meeting the right people and finding all these amazing opportunities.
It really isn’t just about your talent. All the elements have to come together.
In a way, the twenty years I spent practicing classical piano are essential as well. I spent all my life developing a skill. And now I am using this knowledge, these tools, to develop my own music.
It is a lot of work. I am also working under pressure. But I am immensely grateful for this fulfilling life and work.
Every day, I am amazed that this is my job, my career. And, looking back, it seems that somehow I did the right thing from the very beginning.
Hania Rani on Social Media: