Just days after the release of his new album, Elements, I was lucky enough to catch up with the Italian composer and music maestro Ludovico Einaudi. Famous for his expressive melodies and emotive minimalism, his work has been used in film and TV countless times. If you don’t know his name, you’ll have heard his music.
Hello, Mr Einaudi, how are you?
I am well, thanks. I’m about to leave the UK to go to Madrid. But it’s not a holiday – I’m doing another day of interviews and then I go back to Italy tomorrow night. It’s been a very busy week but I’m happy with everything; everything is going really well.
That’s good to hear. I suppose a busy lifestyle is what to expect when you’ve just released a new album…
Yeah, yeah, the moment of release is always exciting, and of course it’s exciting when the people embrace your work and they love it. It’s a beautiful moment that comes after a lot of work!
Elements was released on the 16th October. Can you tell us a little bit about that: where you got your inspirations from and what you hoped to achieve?
The inspiration was around the idea of the elements and I wanted to focus on the idea of the musical elements. I started to read in other fields: in books about the arts – I was reading Kandinsky’s writing about the function of the elements of arts; I was reading about the periodic table of the elements in science, in chemistry; I was reading about the creation of the world in Greek mythology. So it all came back into a sort of organic flow of music, but in some moments my mind was lost into a strange world…I don’t know, but it was fascinating.
You sound like a very intelligent man! If you hadn’t pursued a career in music, do you think mathematics or science could have been fields in which you found yourself?
No, I think music has always been my need. I’ve needed music since I was born. I think I started to listen to music when I was a little kid and I couldn’t live without it. So I cannot imagine my life without it, it’s something I need to have around me every day. My mother was playing piano when I was a kid so she introduced me to music when I was born…probably even when I wasn’t born!
Your son and daughter are both musicians…
Yes, my son is studying composition and my daughter is singing and writing songs. It’s beautiful because we can share our music, our experience, so it’s a way to keep connected.
Do you have a particular piece of yours of which you’re most proud?
I think it’s difficult to pick out something because every piece has its own history and there was a reason behind having done it. So it’s a bit difficult for me to pick one and say I love it…in every record I’ve done there are some favourites and pieces that became more popular. But I prefer to let other people do that – it’s difficult for me!
On your album Elements, there is a very beautiful piano piece called Song for Gavin. Who is Gavin?
This is the last piece on the album. I wrote it in memory of a friend who passed away this year and his name was Gavin Clark. He was a singer-songwriter that I met a few years ago in the UK and we became friends. He was coming to my concerts and we were doing little collaborations together. I was so sad when I heard that he was not alive anymore that I said I wanted to write something, and this came out. I’m happy about the fact that I can remember him and share this memory in honour of him, and that other people can start to know his work through mine, because it is beautiful.
Speaking of the images conjured up by your work, is it strange for you to see your music used in TV shows and film relating to images that didn’t come into your mind when composing?
Well sometimes it’s strange, but in some cases, like for This Is England, it is a project that I really love and I collaborated with the director, Shane Meadows. I’m very happy to be connected with that. But there are other things that, sometimes, I don’t know what they are about – I’m not a big TV-watcher, I don’t spend time watching TV at home, and so I don’t know most of the time when my music is used. But they tell me it is used for a lot of different programmes. Sometimes I feel it strange, I feel it can be too much…sometimes I can’t decide because there is a possibility of choosing music and they can do whatever they want.
I guess that’s the magic of music: it can mean different things to different people. Okay, a little bit of fun for the final question…if you had to be a musical instrument, which would you choose and why?
I think I’d like to be an instrument like the cello, because it’s made of wood, it’s deep but also it can sing. And it’s vibrant. Everything is about how you take out the vibration from that piece of wood and make it sing.
Einaudi plays Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 19th March 2016 as part of his UK tour! Get tickets here: http://www.songkick.com/concerts/25181054-ludovico-einaudi-at-royal-concert-hall