Hidden from small

Daniel Matsukawa - Behind the Scenes

January 03, 2017

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.


Daniel Matsukawa holds the Richard M. Klein Chair.

Where were you born? I was born in Argentina. 

What piece of music could you play over and over again? In terms of orchestra, any of the Beethoven symphonies. No matter how often we play them they never get old. For solo pieces, the Hummel Bassoon Concerto is like comfort food for me. I take out my instrument and just play through that for comfort, leisure, and joy. In terms of listening, I can be stranded on an island with Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Bruckner’s Symphonies No. 7-9, and all of the Mozart operas!

What is your most treasured possession? Well, I don't know if they are my “possession” but definitely my two daughters, Hanna and Meg. I guess you can say they are my two most beloved treasures in my life. 

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? There are so many to choose from, that's an unfair question. I love BYO’s, they are so charming. I am also a Garces fan, and when in a vegetarian mode I love Vedge and V Street.

Tell us about your instrument? I first heard the bassoon on the radio when I was 13, and fell in love with the sound. It can have many different characters but I love the lyrical aspect of the instrument the most and I love to sing through it.

What’s in your instrument case?

My instrument, photos of my daughters, reeds, cleaning swabs, seat strap to hold the instrument when I sit and a neck strap for when I stand. Not a whole lot of other paraphernalia. 

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? Apparently there are more bassoon concertos written by Mozart, and they seem to be lost. I would ask him if he could kindly write them out again for me. Or I would ask him to write me a piece. Yannick paid me one of the greatest compliments ever by saying if Mozart was alive today he would write me 100 concertos. Wow, that is so nice! So maybe my one question would be, could he write me 100 concertos?

What piece of music never fails to move you? My honest true answer is whatever we’re performing that week. I’ll think one week that Brahms is the greatest composer and will feel so moved by his music, and then the following week I’ll think that of Mahler and think he is the greatest, and then Beethoven, and then Bach, and so on and so on. I guess I am blessed to be moved so much. 

When did you join the Orchestra? In 2000. 

Do you play any other instruments? I started out as a choirboy when I was six. Then I played guitar and was a lead singer in a punk rock band in my early teens. Currently I have been doing more and more conducting aside from bassoon playing. And I don't know if you would call that an instrument or perhaps the greatest instrument of all, which is an orchestra. 

What’s your favorite type of food? Though I am a lover of sushi, like music, I love all kinds of food and am a big foodie. 

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski; two recently published books by Tom DiNardo on performers and their stories; and a few books on mindfulness including The Inner Matrix by Joey Klein. I do still like the smell and feel of real books. 

Do you speak any other languages? Japanese. 

Do you follow any blogs? Not any one in particular. 

Do you have any hobbies? I love sports. I don't get to play enough (baseball, basketball, tennis, touch football), and I have to be careful not to get injured as a performer. 

Do you have a favorite movie? Dead Poets Society, It's a Wonderful Life, and Love Actually. 

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. It’s an opera that works well on stage and is not very long. Only Strauss can make a chamber-sized orchestra sound like 100 people. And of course I can say this, but David Ludwig’s bassoon concerto Pictures from the Floating World. We premiered this work in 2013 and I think it is a gem. 

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? Music by Piazzolla, download; music of Bernstein, on CD; Verdi’s Otello with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, on DVD. 

What’s on your iPod? A lot of different things and music of all genres. 

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? When I was a student at Juilliard listening to an LP of the Orchestra, and I was blown away. And the first time I heard the Orchestra live was also as a student and it was in Carnegie Hall, in 1988. 

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Kitara Hall in Sapporo; the Musikverein in Vienna; and the Philharmonie in Berlin. 

Photo by Jessica Griffin