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Ludovico Einaudi is a world-renowned pianist and composer. He is the most streamed classical artist of all time and he's written scores for Oscar-winning films. Many will say his majestic piano melodies have stirred a multitude of emotions in them, bringing peace and calm in times of stress and creating lasting memories.
In the wake of his first solo piano album in 20 years, which he says came "naturally" during the stillness of lockdown, Country Living spoke to Ludovico from his home in rural Italy about all things music, nature and wellbeing.
Called Underwater, Ludovico describes the sound and feel of the album as being "from another world… another dimension." He wanted it to be "an almost magical experience."
Here, we hear how to the musician uses nature to make that magical dream a reality...
How old were you when you started playing the piano and when did you realise that it was your passion?
I was a little kid, when my mother used to play the piano at home. For years at the beginning, I didn’t actually have a teacher that I loved. I started to study the piano more intensely when I was a teenager, and the more I progressed with it the more I realised that music was what I truly loved, and what I wanted to do with my life.
I knew I wanted music to become my world because it allowed me to feel the most beautiful emotions. It gave me a lot of joy, sadness – all the most beautiful human emotions you could think of.
At the same time, I felt that music was the territory wherein I knew I could express myself. Outside of music, I felt that my life was more black and white. With music in my life, I felt more colours.
How do you hope listening to classical music benefits people’s mental health and wellbeing?
I myself benefit from music because it takes me to wonderful places within myself. I've visited beautiful places within my soul because of music, and I think that it can take you to greater places of spirituality, of joy, of sadness, anger, greatness… You can dive into such a vast array of different emotions, and I think that everyone can benefit from listening to music.
I’ve always believed that, in school, the first thing you should do with children is listen to a piece of music with them. Whether that be a song or a piece by Bach, I’m sure that by doing this, day after day, the child will benefit incredibly from it.
The reason for this is because music is like pure emotion. If you dive into it, and understand how to enter into its realm, it is truly an incredible experience and that experience can make you feel richer, stronger. It can also help you become more aware of your emotions and how to open yourself up to others.
What made you want to write another solo album after twenty years?
Lockdown was a very interesting moment because I suddenly found that my time was complete. By that I mean I didn’t have any interference from outside, and I enjoyed it quite a lot actually.
I felt I was in my twenties again. My phone was not constantly ringing and I felt that the world was very calm and beautiful. Considering, of course, all the people that suffered during this period, I felt that it was a positive moment for me. I am very grateful that I felt like this, considering everything.
I started to become much more relaxed with my playing. Every day, I found myself writing a piece of music, and the music came naturally. It never felt forced. Honestly, I’m not even sure how it happened. It was like the music was coming by itself, without any effort from me.
It felt almost like inner poetry. Playing the music on the piano was like reading a piece of poetry to a friend. There wasn’t really a decision made by me to write a solo album after 20 years. I never thought about it until someone told me that was the case.
You live in rural Italy. How does nature inspire your music?
I enjoy nature very much. I especially enjoyed it during lockdown as I had a lot more time to really dive in and explore and experience nature completely. I could enjoy all the changes of seasons. When life is ‘normal’ and you are always working, you have less opportunity because work takes over and is the main thing that you do.
The seasons of nature and their different aromas and colours are like the salt and pepper of life. If you could devote some of your time solely to nature – like looking at the sky, at the way the grass grows, the way the flowers arise, the beginning of autumn, or spring, how the leaves fall, the change of temperature – that would be amazing.
During lockdown, I realised that we spend so much time talking about and doing things that are, mostly, quite meaningless. So, I started to think that, for me, it is a lot more important to stay in touch with nature than to stay in touch with humans.
There are a few humans that are very meaningful to me but the rest seem to be unnecessary and unneeded. You can, instead, devote your time to being amongst nature and, through doing this, you do feel much richer.
I think that this is probably the reason why many artists have been connecting with nature and have immersed themselves in it. They were just happy, and their heart was full of knowledge and awareness of the sun, the clouds...
I feel that nature is a great and complex world – a complex world that humans could not create. Nature does not need any words to say what it says. We strive, and we try, but we will never arrive at that same greatness.
From that greatness, which season do you find most inspiring?
I love spring and autumn, the transitional months. For me, winter is beautiful but I would ask to make it a bit shorter. I feel that February and March are a bit too long, and I very much enjoy it when the days become longer and I start to see the movement of nature waking up after winter.
In winter, I feel like it is too dark and I need more light. Autumn drives into winter so it can sometimes be a moment of depression but, really, it’s so beautiful. The change of the leaves and that moment where all the leaves become red and yellow, and then fall down... and then the fog comes through. These moments are extremely fascinating and inspiring.
How does it feel to perform live again after lockdown? Are you looking forward to returning to London?
I started performing again recently and it truly is beautiful to feel the audience and to establish this moment of timelessness, almost, within people. Music gives time a different perspective, and when everyone is experiencing that together, it is incredibly beautiful.
I’m really looking forward to coming to London to play the new music. It will be hard to adjust myself because, as I said, it’s music that was created without any desire to prove something, or to show something. Instead, it is very inner, like inner poetry.
You have to play the music as if you are performing to a friend but instead establish it with three thousand people. This is the complexity involved with how to actually perform it – you do have to solve that little problem but, I will find a way.
Ludovico Einaudi's new album Underwater is released on Friday 21st January 2022. You can listen to the first single, Luminous, here. His compilation album Cinema, which includes tracks from Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winners Nomadland and The Father is out now.
2022 will see Einaudi return to the UK for a string of live performances in March, including a week’s residency in London for three performances at London’s Eventim Hammersmith Apollo, accompanied by his band, and two nights of solo performances at London’s Alexandra Palace.
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