At one point there were seven whole days when we stayed in the basement and didnt see the sun. “But you got used to it, you had to go on living.” For three years the whole family slept each night on the concrete floor of the shelter in their basement. They occasionally were able to escape to a house on one of the islands off Sibeniks coast, but although he was away from the bombs, being away from his piano was tortuous for Maksim and, despite the dangers; he always welcomed the family's return to the city. Eventually a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Maksim entered his first competition in 1993, practicing feverishly to reach the high standards he knew were expected of him.
War still raged in Sibenik, but there was peace in Zagreb where the competition was held. The 18 year old Maksim had already charmed the judge and audience just by turning up, but once he played the applause was purely for the music. The judge stopped the competition after Maksims performance, immediately announcing him as the winner. “They said I ought to win just for coming from Sibenik.” He laughs.
“They said We know it is hell. Where did you practice? But after I played and won there were hundreds of people shouting for me and not because they felt sorry for me.” The pianist says it was one of the best experiences of his life and it seems that however successful he has gone on to be, the joy of that first win remains vivid in his mind. Maksim went on to study in Zagreb with Vladimir Krpan, one of country's most revered music professors, then to the Ferenc Liszt conservatoire in Budapest and finally to Paris before returning to Croatia to record his first album Gestures in 2000. He had modest hopes for the record, but it surpassed all expectations, becoming one of the fastest selling albums ever released in Croatia and winning four Porin awards (the country's equivalent of a Classical Brit). In 2001 Maksim met Tonci Huljic, a musician and composer who not only wrote some original pieces for the young pianist (and continues to do so), but introduced him to music impresario Mel Bush.
Bush had been looking for a classical pianist for some time, having masterminded the success of all-girl string quartet Bond he was convinced that there was huge potential for a pianist to break into the classical/pop crossover market, but hadnt been able to find the right person. Maksims first crossover album for EMI Classical, The Piano Player, was a huge success in 2003. It went Gold in Malaysia, China and Indonesia and Platinum in Taiwan, Singapore and his home country Croatia and Double Platinum in Hong Kong. It contained what has become, to many, his signature piece: a particularly energetic version of Rimsky - Korsakovs Flight of the Bumblebee. He is particularly proud that there is now an annual competition named after him in which amateur pianists play the piece.
Variations I&II in 2004 won him yet more fans and a platinum disc for sales in Taiwan. On a tour of South East Asia fans received him like a rock star as he played his unique crossover music accompanied by strobe lights and video screens and dates in Japan where he played in a more purely classical style accompanied by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra were greeted just as rapturously. Earlier in 2006 Maksim pushed the boundaries of crossover with his third album, A New World, toured again in Japan and Asia and was delighted to play an outdoor homecoming show in Zagreb. The trajectory of his fame is set to rise even steeper with the release of Elektric and a forthcoming tour of Asia, where he will perform in both crossover concerts with his band and again with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Maksim is married to childhood sweetheart Ana. The couple have a daughter named LeeLoo (after Milla Jojovovichs character in The Fifth Element). They divide their time between Sibenik and London. (2) MC based out of London, UK Most notably a Hip-Hop MC, Maksim has worked with many different Producers from all kinds of genres, including Dubstep, Drum & Bass and the newly emerged Bastard-Genre Glitch-Hop.
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