Andrea Gotsch the first female clarinettist in the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra
She also keeps opposition strikers in check as a defender for Wiener Sport-Club
"I get so much out of football"
Quick, powerful, exciting and full of variety: these are just some ways to sum up football in just a few words. But how would the game sound if it were underscored by an orchestra, as if a football match were a symphony?
"Fortunately no two games are alike, and all kinds of variations are possible. You couldn’t possibly limit it to one symphony," grinned Andrea Gotsch in an interview with FIFA.com. "What makes a football match exciting? When it’s finely balanced, sometimes moving in one direction and sometimes in the other. A little bit of everything happens, so I would make it as colourful as possible. It shouldn’t be one-dimensional and should include some development.
"Which instruments? Football definitely involves power, so I would use plenty of brass instruments – woodwind instruments too. Perhaps there could also be some virtuoso passages to highlight the pace and agility in a match. Percussion instruments too, to reflect the rhythm of the game. I like that idea," she added with another smile.
Gotsch is the first female clarinettist in the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic orchestra and a composer in her own right. She also provides stability in defence at second-tier Austrian side Wiener Sport-Club. "Football was part of my life even before the clarinet," she explained. "I started playing football when I was seven and probably even earlier than that. My brother played the game, so I used to kick a ball about with him before joining a club when I was seven."
Football and music is the perfect symbiosis for Gotsch, who was born in Bolzano, South Tyrol in 1994. The regular training increases her lung capacity, makes her stronger and improves her breathing. "I think I’ve learned so many skills from football that I can use when playing the clarinet, such as good awareness, quick actions and reactions, and general pace, agility and anticipation – all things that help me in my music," she explained.
"I think I sometimes find it easier in football than in music to truly and completely switch off and simply focus on the moment at hand – the match, the ball, the team, the opponent, us and our physical activity. I occasionally manage to block all other thoughts from my mind and get completely immersed in the music during a concert, but I generally just sit in my seat and hardly move. The fresh air and the ability to completely let loose does me so much good. On the one hand it’s very similar to the concert experience, but on the other hand it’s the total opposite – somewhere I can really let go and relax."
The affable clarinettist realised the importance of striking this balance when her increasing musical commitments and concert offers caused football to take a back seat. She barely kicked a ball after moving to the Austrian capital – until the Vienna Philharmonic invited her to play in their football team against another orchestra. By accepting this invitation, Gotsch became the first woman ever to play for the side.
"I’d noticed that I was missing football – even in my music," she recalled. "It showed me that I needed to get back to the experience of playing a proper game with a team. It makes such a difference to me that I couldn’t do without it. An old school friend was at Wiener Sport-Club and brought me to the club, as it were. It worked out really well from the start. It’s difficult of course, particularly with work, as concerts tend to be at evenings and weekends. I try to make it to training as often as possible, but there are sometimes weeks when I get there perhaps once, twice or even not at all. I’m very fortunate that the coach accepts this and that my team-mates understand it."
And who knows – perhaps one day we will listen to Andrea Gotsch’s football symphony, close our eyes and be transported to a very special match indeed.
Pictures courtesy of Wiener Sport-Club, Andrea Gotsch & © Siwoung Song