LUDOVICO EINAUDI

In the early years of the 1990s, when Ludovico Einaudi had just begun writing in what we might consider his 'signature' style, he was asked to describe his new album 'Stanze' and responded in the following way:

"...it is the diary of a journey towards essentiality, with the objective of achieving the maximum expressive intensity using the minimum indispensable."

Twenty years later that description not only holds true for his own music but describes a journey on which he has been joined by literally millions of listeners around the globe.

Whether releasing chart-topping albums or selling out the largest concert halls, composing award winning film scores or topping audience polls, Ludovico Einaudi has achieved the most difficult of all artistic feats, to speak meaningfully to a huge audience in a way that each member finds uniquely and deeply personal. In doing so he has rendered traditional ideas of musical genre and audience divide obsolete and become not only one of the best known composers active in the world today but almost certainly the best loved too.

Ludovico's journey began in Turin, Italy where he was born on November 23rd 1955. His father, Giulio Einaudi, founded the eponymous Italian publishing house, one of the country's largest. His grandfather was Luigi Einaudi, a noted economist and President of the Italian Republic between 1948 and 1955. As such it could fairly said that Ludovico comes from a patrician background with the broad educational and cultural horizons that go with it.

His earliest musical recollection is listening to his mother Renata Aldrovandi playing the piano and it's from her that he feels he inherited his musical passion. Music is undoubtedly strong on that side of the family as Renata's father Wando Aldrovandi was also a noted musician. A pianist like his grandson and also an opera teacher and conductor Waldo was a child prodigy who befriended Puccini and Caruso before emigrating to Australia where he helped establish the Sydney Opera Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Ludovico received a conventional classical education in similar fashion growing up, although at times it was not something he was always receptive to. He developed a passion for rock and pop music as a teenager, took up the guitar and fondly recalls that his first ever album purchase was The Beatles' 'Revolver'. All early signs of his eclectic tastes and the determination to follow his inner voice, wherever it might lead.

Nonetheless he applied himself to his traditional studies and won a place at one of Italy's most prestigious conservatoires, Milan's Conservatorio 'G. Verdi' where over the next few years he underwent a formal training in composition and graduated with his diploma in 1982. 
Immediately on leaving he began post-graduate studies with Luciano Berio, one of the most important composers of the post-war generation with whom he worked as assistant on various musical and theatrical projects. In the same year he also won a scholarship to the prestigious Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, USA.

All in all it was an extremely promising start and over the next few years Ludovico began to build his career with a series of traditionally orientated pieces couched in the then house-style of the international 'serious music' establishment.

Performances duly followed by and at an impressive list of international institutions: the Teatro alla Scala, Milan; the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; the Tanglewood Festival; Pierre Boulez's IRCAM institute in Paris; the St Paul Chamber Orchestra (USA); Settembre Musica; the Lincoln Centre in New York; the UCLA Centre for Performing Arts; the Budapest Music Festival etc.

On the surface all was blossoming but inside Ludovico was becoming increasingly discontented, as he recalls:

"The serious music world began to seem very academic and oppressive. I was very captured by the conceptual ideas of the music I was writing but I couldn't find myself inside. I felt there wasn't a connection with my emotional side….I began to notice that when I was able to leave free space inside the experimental pieces, these were the moments I liked most…I also felt that I didn't want to leave out all the music I had experienced in my life; popular music, rock music."

And so in the mid-1980s he began to break with orthodoxy and search for a more personal mode of expression, one that could reconcile and provide a vehicle for his various musical influences and ideas. Shrewdly his first experiments in this direction were via a series of collaborative works in theatre, dance and multi-media, forms which naturally demanded a much looser and more experimental approach, and also allowed for a greater emphasis on rhythm and repetition than was 'allowed' by the traditional establishment in concert works.

The most significant works of this period are the multimedia / dance-theatre piece 'Time Out' (1988) - devised with the writer Andrea De Carlo and performed by the American company ISO Dance Theatre in Italy, the United States and Japan - and the opera-ballet 'Salgari' (1995) - inspired by the life and works of the Verona-born writer and featured texts by Salgari himself, Rabindranath Tagore and Charles Duke Jr. Commissioned by the Arena di Verona and first performed there the work featured choreography by Daniel Ezralow and sets by Jerome Sirlin.

Ludovico was very much enjoying his new freedom and the sense of expanding possibilities that came with it, as he noted at the time,

"'Salgari' was originally born as a ballet and along the way became something else, a combination of texts, music, movement, images…"


The decisive break with the past however would come as he stripped back both his musical language and the forces he was writing for so as to concentrate on obtaining the maximum from the minimum. In doing so he found his authentic, personal voice and it is from this point that the career of Ludovico Einaudi as we know the composer today, really begins.

The new musical language he had arrived at was a very unselfconscious synthesis of various musics he enjoyed and felt empathy with - from one side there were echoes of classical composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich - and on the other, the 'ambience' of Brian Eno or the Cocteau Twins - from a third, the influence of world music, Malian kora music being particularly important to him - on a fourth, the influence of rock and pop bands like U2 and Pink Floyd. Over a lifetime he had taken in these and other influences and was now able to connect them at the most fundamental, what we might call 'atomic', musical level, forging his personal language from the result in a very original way.

It's perhaps because of this breadth of influence that Ludovico's music has such broad appeal, not merely reflecting and reconciling but actually transcending the multi-faceted world that we live in and the polyglot lives we all lead; making sense of it all with evident success and immediately apparent beauty. It's also for this reason that when people sometimes describe Ludovico's music as 'Minimal' (in the classical tradition of Glass etc al) it feels such an inadequate description, as it's literally describing just a part of the original picture. Nevertheless as we live in a world of labels, Ludovico is characteristically diplomatic, and indeed insightful about such things, as he says:

"In general I don't like definitions, but 'Minimalist' is a term that means elegance and openness, so I would prefer to be called a Minimalist than something else."

In the two decades it's taken him to reach this point Ludovico Einaudi has made a remarkable journey. From being one man composing alone at a piano he's now an international phenomenon, surrounded when he plays by eager thousands, listened to avidly by many millions more. Country after country has taken him to its heart, his albums have topped innumerable charts and his concerts sold out the world's most prestigious halls.

He's reached a point in his career where seemingly any avenue or possibility of his artistic choosing is available to him, the only real question being where he wants to go. Even then, on current form a triumphant arrival almost anywhere would seem assured.

It's gratifying then that through it all he remains that rarest of things a genuine and unaffected artist, pleased by his success of course but principally as it evidences his successful communication with his audience and the intrinsic quality of his work. This is where his true motivation has always been, the reason he began the journey, as he explains:

"I'm doing this music because I believe in it. I'm not saying it's the music of the future or a big statement about humanity. But this is music I created from nothing. And yes, it's my vision."

DISCOGRAPHY & CHRONOLOGY

ALBUMS
Time Out (1988)
Stanze (1992)
Salgari (1995)
Le Onde (1996)
Eden Roc (1999)
I Giorni (2001)
La Scala Concert 03.03.03 (2003)
Una Mattina (2004)
Diario Mali (2005), Ludovico Einaudi & Ballaké Sissoko
Divenire (2006)
Live In Berlin (2008)
Cloudland (2009), Whitetree
Nightbook (2009)
The Royal Albert Hall Concert (2010)
In a Time Lapse (2013)
Taranta Project (2015)
Elements (2015)

COLLECTIONS
Echoes: The Einaudi Collection (2003) UK
Island (2011) UK/IT/GERMANY
Essentiel (2011) FRANCE

MUSIC FOR FILMS
Da qualche parte in città (1994), Michele Sordillo
Acquario (1996), Michele Sordillo (Grolla d'Oro award - Best Film Soundtrack)
Treno di panna (1998), Andrea De Carlo
Giorni dispari (1998), Dominick Tambasco
Aprile (1998), Nanni Moretti (contains 'Le Onde' and 'Canzone Popolare')
Un delitto impossibile (2000), Antonello Grimaldi
La vita altrui (2000), Michele Sordillo
Fuori dal mondo (2000), Giuseppe Piccioni (Echo Klassik award 2002 - Best Film Soundtrack)
Luce dei miei occh' (2001), Giuseppe Piccioni (Italian Music Awards 2002 - Best Film Soundtrack)
Le parole di mio padre (2001), Francesca Comencini
Alexandria (2001), Maria Iliou
Doctor Zhivago (2002), Giacomo Campiotti (New York Festival 2004 - Gold World Medal, Best Film Soundtrack)
Fame chimica (2003), Paolo Vari and Antonio Bocola (includes 'La Linea Scura')
Sotto falso nome (2004), Roberto Andò (Avignon Festival 2004 - Best Film Soundtrack)
This Is England (2006), Shane Meadows (BAFTA award nomination)
Starfish Tango (2006), Rutger Hauer
Breath (2007) Mark Gillespie
Il mare si è fermato (2009), Alessandro Capitani
Welcome To Detroit (2010), Andrea Salvadore
This Is England '86 (TV Series) (2010), Shane Meadows
Das Ende ist mein Anfang (2010) Jo Baier
Intouchables (2011) Olivier Nakache - Eric Soledano
Samba (2014) Olivier Nakache - Eric Soledano
The Third Murder (2017) - Hirokazu Koreeda

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