A pianist at the top of the world

Last fall, Ludovico Einaudi became a superstar. He was already the most prominent neoclassical composer in the world. Fueled by a TikTok trend, he’s the most listened to classical pianist in the world today. A look back at the Italian phenomenon, who will have one concert in Quebec and three in Montreal over the next few days.

Posted yesterday at 9:00am

Alexandre Vigneault

Alexandre Vigneault
The press

A classical pianist

Ludovico Einaudi was introduced to the piano by his mother, who was herself the daughter of a pianist, and initially received an education in Turin, his hometown, before continuing his studies at the Milan Conservatory with Luciano Berio and perfecting his skills with Karlheinz Stockhausen. From the very beginning he devoted himself to composing ballets, orchestral works or for various ensembles. From the very beginning, he has striven to create the maximum impression with minimal playing – which is still characteristic of his sparse music, which is primarily articulated around repetitive motifs.


Omar Sy and François Cluzet present untouchablesreleased in 2012

Revealed by the cinema

Ludovico Einaudi has never set himself an obstacle: he has notably collaborated with the Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko and the Armenian duduk player Djivan Gasparyan. However, it is the music on screen that will bring him out of the shadows: in 1998 he signs the music for the film Aprile by Nanni Moretti and in 2002 a revival of Doctor Zhivago who points it out in the United States. He will then compose for the films I am still here (by Casey Affleck, starring Joaquin Phoenix) and special untouchables (with Omar Sy and François Cluzet), who gave his career a real boost – a bit like Amelie Poulain for Yann Tiersen.

Play less, feel more

Above all, Ludovico Einaudi learned one thing from Luciano Berio: to make music that is connected to emotions. In the end he concentrated his compositional skills on his piano and preferred a reduced approach. “I’ve also been listening to Miles Davis leave a lot of silence between notes, he confided to him last April Paris match. I wanted to do that. His music is thoughtful, but there’s nothing intellectual about his approach. This helps to make it attractive to as many people as possible.

Alone on his ice floe

His immense success divides people and pushes Ludovico Einaudi to the fringes of classical music circles. In the interview at The press, last year pianist-composer Alain Lefèvre railed against his repetitive “tounettes,” which he associated with elevator music, and criticized his Italian colleague for being “filmed on a glacier while playing the piano stuff that a 4-year-old could compose”. He was referring to Elegy for the Arcticperformed by Ludovico Einaudi in Norway for a Greenpeace awareness campaign. His vision is diametrically opposed to that of the Italian pianist’s millions of admirers, which one netizen summed up under the video shot on the ice: “Simplicity and beauty, but with a complex message behind it. »


under water, Ludovico Einaudi’s latest album, was released in January. Yes, it’s a containment album. For the composer it is a kind of “detoxified” diary of the imperatives of the past life, of oppressive consumption. “This time was like living in an earthly paradise,” he told the Italian daily La Republica. I felt like I was 18 when I didn’t know what my future would hold. “This year he has embarked on a tour that will take him all around the planet, to venues that are probably even bigger than before, now that he’s a star of… TikTok.

billion streams

Cinema brought Ludovico Einaudi out of the shadows, but it was social media that propelled him into the stratosphere. The teenagers don’t know the name or face of the Italian composer old enough to be their grandfather. However, many of them recognize his piece experience from the first bars. This was at the heart of a trend that went viral and spilled onto streaming platforms last fall. Since then, his ratings have skyrocketed. on spotify, experience had accumulated 230 million streams by mid-June, almost as many as hung up by Madonna (251 million views) and running up That Hill by Kate Bush (265 million). his piece Nuvole Bianche claimed almost 284 million streams. Ludovico Einaudi certainly didn’t have that in mind when trying to achieve maximum impact with the minimum of music, but he shouldn’t complain.

In Concert: Grand Théâtre de Québec, June 30; Maison symphonique (solo), 2 July; Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on July 3rd and 4th.

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