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Ludovico Einaudi: “I like rock’n’roll and Mozart or Stockhausen equally”.

On 14 September 2017 Ludovico Einaudi performed in Madrid at the Palacio de Vistalegre, which was completely full for his performance. In fact, there was a very long queue of cars queuing to park at the arena, which stretched as far as the nearby Avenida del General Ricardos, so the concert had to start well behind the scheduled time. A few days before the concert, this brief interview was published in Metrópoli, the Friday supplement of the newspaper El Mundo. A little more than four years later, a few days before the Italian musician releases his new album, Underwater (on 21 January), here is the text as it was sent to the editorial staff at the time. The year of production should always be taken into account.

Ludovico Einaudi (Turin, 1955) is the biggest star in classical music today. In all areas. In the largest auditoriums, such as the Royal Albert Hall in London (in Madrid he performs at the Palacio de Vistalegre!) and in nightclubs (pieces of his remixed by the likes of Mogwai). In film soundtracks (for example, Intouchables, a hit in French cinema in 2011). Or in countless TV commercials. Either you know him and you know it. Or you know him and you don’t…

In 2015 you released two albums, Elements and Taranta Project, and then nothing… Have you been touring the world for two years?

Yes, I’ve been on tour for almost two years. In fact, it’s not over yet. It might end at the end of the year, but there are a few dates next year. However, although I haven’t published it, I have written a Piano Concerto during this time which I have also performed live.

The tour is called Elements, like one of the 2015 albums. You don’t perform anything from Taranta Project?

It’s just that Taranta Project was a different project, a collaboration with other musicians, which was based on the folk music of Puglia, a region in the south of Italy. It was released in 2015, but it was initially developed live, in 2012 or 2013, both in Italy and in some places in Europe. Then I composed Elements, which is a completely my own album. That’s why, on this tour, I’m focusing on this album.

What is this concert in Madrid going to be like, solo, with synthesizer, or with a band? And what extra repertoire?

I’m travelling with a small band. There are six of us on stage: percussion, cello, guitars, bass, synthesizers… I’m accompanied by multi-instrumentalists, so the sound possibilities are wide-ranging. And the repertoire will be mainly Elements, with pieces from other albums, such as Una Mattina, NightBook or In a Time Lapse. A real “Einaudi concert”.

You studied with Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen, representatives of integral serialism; however, in your music the influences that can be perceived are minimalist: Philip Glass or Michael Nyman?

I agree that I belong to the generation of minimalists: Glass, Steve Reich or Nyman. A different path to the one followed by the generation of the serialists and the avant-garde. The fact that I am compared to Nyman, I think, comes from the fact that he composed the soundtrack for The Piano, which was influenced by folk music. In turn, a lot of my own musical research comes from folk music and how it has evolved. As for Glass, I love his work. He’s a master. But he’s not the only thing you can find in my musical family tree; there’s a lot more: thirty or forty names… and a lot of baroque music (Vivaldi or Bach)!

I studied with those musicians you mentioned but I couldn’t follow them; I didn’t feel comfortable and it didn’t suit my character. It was too strict a music: it was like being locked in a cage. I also listened to much more music than classical music. Music is not just one. There is a lot of it. And I like rock’n’roll and Mozart or Stockhausen equally. Everyone can have their own opinion. I think that’s because they have (or had) a very narrow or too strict mind. And I try to be more open-minded.

And what kind of rock’n’roll?

I grew up listening to music from the sixties, from the Beatles and the Stones to Jimi Hendrix. Then came Pink Floyd, Mogwai or Radiohead… There are also hundreds of names.

© Photograph by Cesare Cicardini downloaded from the Ludovico Einaudi website.