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A biography is a chronological description of events that all had a positive outcome, accumulated in numbers and thereby became what is known as a career. There is however a different kind of biography. One that tells the story of the influences that inspired the personal journey of any artists. To me this is a biography of gratitude.   I think the reason for my constant and at times almost obsessive search for new information lies in my childhood. I come from a small city in central Sweden and even though there was a lot of love for music in the city, it had little connection with European music tradition. My parents created a home full of opportunities to discover music. There were all kinds of instruments lying around and an extensive record collection. In a way my childhood was spent in a playground of music. Music was my main joy from very early on and I floated around in a world of musical instruments and great recordings. Eventually the violin became my primary interest and that’s when the world outside our house lacked something important: There was no way to study the violin and develop as a musician in the city. My parents decided to take me to the Hungarian violin professor Tibor Fülep and they spent the next 5 years driving 4 hours for every violin lesson. Had they not done so I would never have become a violinist. But the feeling of desperately wanting to learn about something but having no access to it, has been with me all my life. I spent 8 years with Tibor Fülep and apart from teaching me many things about the mechanics of violin playing, he instilled in me an attitude towards music for which I am grateful. He loved diversity. He loved the fact that the violin could be played in so many different ways. I never heard him say anything suggesting rigidity or prestige. Whenever he came across something new and inspiring he was happy like a child. So in a way Tibor Fülep was the perfect teacher for me. The freedom of musical curiosity in my childhood was continued, only now with a clear direction and culture. My need for unregulated exploration of music continued to room freely when I discovered rock music in my early teens. I learned to play the guitar and joined a band. I had a great time doing this and it was not until the of age 15 that I decided to focus completely on the violin. So, in short, that is the story of my childhood and adolescence. Nothing noteworthy but for one thing: there is a thread of diversity and curiosity. And even if my drive to find information is based on a fear of lacking the opportunity to do so, it’s still something for which I am grateful.       For all its merit my childhood left me somewhat ill-prepared for the next step in my education. I was lucky to find exellent teachers and I do not wish to minimize their importance or the inmportance of a strictly structured training in general. But the world of conformity and wannabe oracles that I entered affected me deeply. At first I was full of motivation and desire to learn and all was fine, but very gradually the fire within me died out. As it turned out my joy of working with the violin didn’t return for almost 15 years. I played concerts all the time and with great pleasure, but a minimum of time was spent with my instrument. Is that sad? Not at all. This experience is just as big a part of me as an artist and a person as the period before that. And it reinforces my belief that when we identify with being part of something we think it is superior to everything else, we become prisoners within that very thing.   There is a quote by Albert Einstein: “Common sence is just a collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”. Prejudice, conformity, intolerance. It’s all the same. I am not saying that we all must be explorers and that being happy where you are is wrong. I have never thought of myself as a creator of develomment and if you hear me play you can hear for yourself that I am a very traditional musician. My point is that if we chose the opposite, when conformity makes us close the door to everything that is different from ourselfs, things go seriously wrong.  The years between being a student and rediscovering the violin when I was about 36-37 years of age were strange years and I strayed conciderably from a meaningful direction in life. I was not really a violinist but still a fulltime musician. I wanted more than anything to be passionate about violinplaying again, but I simply could not find the way. But thanks to all the wonderful musicians I met and played with I learned some things about music. In a way thoose years of not focusing on the violin, but still with music on my mind all the time, are the most delveloping so far. I got many ideas to work with when the time was right. I met my wife to be when I was 29 and thanks to her my life became meaningful and rich in many new ways. When we met my life concisted of playing concerts and treating myself to the best entertainment I could think of. Nothing else. It took some time but eventually I made a safe landing and life went on. Of all the people who have helped me shape myself as a musician, my wife is the singel most important figure. She knows my playing better than I do. Whenever I stray she tells me instantly. As you can read elsewhere on this site, she was the one suggesting I record the caprices by Paganini. And here’s another anecdote on the subject: A few months before the recording of Paganini I went to a place not far from our home, put some microphones in the air and recorded 2 caprices. Just to get used to it and have an idea of what I was able to do. I was quite happy with the result and proudly played the tape to my wife. She listened, looked at me and said: “It’s not bad. But it’s not nearly as good as you could play and what it should be. Get a grip”.  I think that is such a great story. It sums it up: we need people in our lifes who understand and care for our dreams and who are not afraid to tell us the truth as they see it. The recording of the 24 caprices by Paganini is dedicated to my wife. There have been many wonderful and interesting people along the way but for now I want to shine the light on the ones who mattered the most: my parents, Tibor and my wife.  The title above is “Ad vitam aeternam” meaning “For all time”.                                                                                                                                        Jan Stigmer