About Living the Classical Life
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing back into classical music the human dimension lost in an ever more commercialized and dehumanized music business.
Living the Classical Life is an ongoing series of filmed interviews as well as intimate, one-of-a-kind performances hosted by Zsolt Bognár. Its goal is to educate viewers so that they can experience music again as speaking directly from the heart to the heart.
The episodes focus on the inner world of classical musicians and the essence of music itself. Performers at various stages of their careers generously share what Living the Classical Life is about—its passions, fears, obstacles, and its rewards. The intense, very personal exchange between host Zsolt Bognár and his guests is itself a real-time model for Living the Classical Life. Each episode has its own individual trajectory and its own intellectual, emotional, and visual flavor, created by Elyria Pictures, NYC, our highly professional, artistic, and passionately engaged team.
Any viewer, whether music critic, opera fan, or occasional concertgoer, will enjoy these new, exciting insights into the heart of classical music. In a first encounter with a seemingly daunting, closed world, the experience of its humanity is nothing short of transformative.
LTCL Board Members
Jutta Ittner, President
Peter Hobbs, Vice President
Nate Johnson, Treasurer
Jonathan Eifert, Secretary
Zsolt Bognár is an award-winning pianist, writer, and Ted Talk presenter. European critics characterize his playing as “overwhelmingly visceral” and “of crystalline precision,” and his diverse projects have earned him an Arthur Loesser Prize and a Harvard Musical Association award. After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Sergei Babayan, Bognár made his German debut in 2012 at Konzerthaus Berlin, a sold-out performance. The following year marked his recording debut, Franz & Franz, and his receipt of an International Festival Society Grant, which funded projects in Lugano with Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan and studies with the Wilhelm Kempff Foundation in Italy. Mr. Bognár appears regularly with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, and on National Public Radio both as a commentator and performer.
Jonathan Eifert is the founder at Jonathan Eifert Public Relations, which executes strategic public relations and marketing/communications for classical music clientele throughout the U. S., U. K., and Europe. He previously worked at IMG Artists (London) and Astral (Philadelphia). He is an associate member of the Grammy Recording Academy and regular contributor to ArtsHacker.com. While living in London, Jonathan completed his Master of Arts degree in cultural policy and management (arts administration) from City, University of London—specializing in classical artists’ brands and their development. He holds a degree in piano (Bachelor of Music) from Cairn University.
An award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer, Peter Hobbs studied film at Hampshire College, and for many years taught scriptwriting at the New York Film Academy. He has won awards for his feature film "Bridge of Names" and his short film "Anniversary." His New York-based company Elyria Pictures has done filming for the American Bar Association, UNICEF, the New York Times, Steinway & Sons, and Bloomberg among other companies. The originator of "Living the Classical Life," he has also filmed and edited the entire series. He recently started a companion series “Living the Jazz Life” (LTJL), and he is currently writing a novel called "Bar Band."
Jutta Ittner is an Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature. She received her M.A. from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, and her Ph.D. from Hamburg University. She lives in Oberlin, OH and has been teaching at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, since 1992. Her publications include exile studies ("Augenzeuge der Wahrheit" [Eye Witness of the Truth], a comprehensive intellectual biography of the Jewish writer/physician Martin Gumpert, 1998), contemporary literature, women’s literature, and comparative studies of the representation of animals in contemporary literature. Her translations from German into English of contemporary women writers focus in particular on the acclaimed Hamburg author Brigitte Kronauer and include two books ("Constructs of Desire," selections from Kronauer's short stories, novels, and critical essays with introductions, 2009; and "Women and Clothes," a collection of her short stories, 2011).
Nathaniel Johnson is an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in Washington D.C. https://www.debevoise.com/. He represents investment companies, individuals, and corporations in internal and government investigations and complex litigation matters. Nate holds degrees from the George Washington University Law School (J.D.), Cleveland State University (M.B.A.), and the Cleveland Institute of Music (B. Music). Prior to law school, he worked in banking. As a baritone, he has also performed in operas and song recitals in the United States and Europe.
Attorney and Mediator at Kohrman Jackson & Krantz LLP, Cleveland.
Sean helps clients resolve disputes, mitigate risk, and grow their businesses. He serves as a mediator and represents clients in litigation, government investigations, and administrative proceedings. Sean also advises pro bono clients on housing, consumer protection, immigration and arts-related matters, serves on the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s Pro Bono Committee, and participates in the music ministry at St. Dominic Church. He is a member of Shaker Heights City Council, where he is Chair of the Finance Committee and the Human Relations Task Force, and a Member of the Recreation Committee, the Sustainable Shaker Task Force, and the Shaker Heights Development Corporation.
Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Technology at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
George teaches film history, scriptwriting, producing and video editing. He is a filmmaker whose works include The Sea in My Brother (2016) and But Enough About Me… (2000), and also an actor who has appeared in Dream Work (2015), Night of the Working Dead (2014) and Show Me the Aliens (2014). A sketch comedy writer and performer whose troupe, TunnelVision, has played major venues in New York City, he is also a widely published critic, writer, and editor, whose articles have been featured in The New York Daily News, Newsday, Variety, Business Week, among other publications.
Pioneering entrepreneur and early-stage investor who catalyzes ideas into sustainable, growing ventures, combining business with social impact in Africa and South East Asia.
Matt is the co-founder of Rex Mercury, a global payments company that won the MIT BitCoin Competition’s “Next Billion” award in 2014, and co-founder and Chairman of eKitabu, a digital content distribution company focused on education in East Africa. From 2004 – 2011 he led sales and client services for Digital Divide Data, a Skoll Award winning social enterprise in Cambodia, Laos and Kenya. He started his career at the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, after which he joined Flagship Ventures (Cambridge, MA) and was on the founding team of Affinnova, Inc. acquired by Nielsen.
Cinematographer and film director.
Ben is president of Topiary Productions, Inc., a Brooklyn-based boutique film and video production company. It takes projects from the script to the final edit, for example Portraits (Mary’s Story, a Brooklyn art glass studio's struggle to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; Making the Crooked Straight, an American doctor working in Ethiopia. Aired on HBO). Documentaries (Misty Copeland doc; Jim Dine Poet Singing, the making of an original work of art, commissioned by the Getty Villa Museum). Trailers and Teasers (for Lost in Europe, a documentary series celebrating artisanal production in Europe; Obit, a feature documentary about the obituary department of the New York Times); Music videos (featuring bands, as in Sirens, Stranger Cat, Kelby) and Drone Documentaries (Calatrava Bridge, Buenos Aires; Mexico City by Drone) among many others.