Composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi is one of the best-selling classical artists of all time. But how much do you know about the man behind the music?
Einaudi’s family and early life
Ludovico Einaudi was born in Turin in 1955 to a publisher father and an amateur pianist mother. His maternal grandfather was a pianist, conductor and composer (named Waldo Aldrovandi). Meanwhile, his paternal grandfather was an economist and journalist who went on to become President of Italy between 1948 and 1955.
Ludovico Einaudi worked with composers Berio and Stockhausen
Einaudi trained at the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan. Then, in 1982 Einaudi took orchestration classes with Luciano Berio, the Italian experimental composer. He later said: “Luciano Berio did some interesting work with African vocal music and did some arrangements of Beatles songs, and he taught me that there is a sort of dignity inside music. I learnt orchestration from him and a very open way of thinking about music.”
Later on the composer worked as an assistant for Berio and for the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
How did Ludovico Einaudi become famous?
Ludovico Einaudi started out writing music in fairly traditional forms, such as chamber and orchestral music before turning his hand to film music, writing scores for films, including This is England and I’m Still Here.
His first solo album, Le Onde, was released in 1996 and was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel, The Waves. But it was the follow-up which really brought Einaudi to the world’s attention.
Einaudi released I Giorni in 2006. The album was inspired by his travels in Africa and the title track caught the attention of DJ, Greg James, who played it on his BBC Radio 1 show. The rest is history: the track entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 32 – an almost-unheard of feat for a classical track.
Einaudi in the Arctic
In 2016 he wrote a work called ‘Elegy for the Arctic’ and partnered with Greenpeace to perform the work on a floating platform in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway.
Ludovico Einaudi’s most famous songs
Many of Einaudi’s pieces have become famous as stand-alone songs. Nuvole Bianche is currently his most-streamed piece, taken from his album Una Mattina. It has featured in in television shows including Ricky Gervais’ Derek and has now been streamed over 14 million times. Divenire is another popular track: it’s featured in many adverts and shows, but perhaps most notably it was used in ITV’s Love Island.
Seven Days Walking
Ludovico Einaudi announced this large-scale project in early 2019: Seven Days Walking was made up of seven albums of music released over the course of seven months. The albums were inspired by time the composer had spent walking in the Alps. He said the heavy snow helped his thoughts “roam free inside the storm, where all shapes, stripped bare by the cold, lost their contours and colours.”
Here’s how the composer himself described the project: “I associated everything with walking, with the experience of following the same routes over and over, discovering new details each time. And so in the end I decided to thread them all together in a sort of musical labyrinth, a little like stepping inside the twists and turns of the creative process, to understand how a musical idea can develop in multiple directions, and changing once again at the moment in which it is heard.”
12 Songs From Home
12 Songs From Home, released in May 2020, was recorded at the composer’s home during the coronavirus lockdown. The solo piano album was recorded on Einaudi’s own upright piano and features some of the best-known works from his career.
Ludovico Einaudi explained, “I recorded 12 Songs From Home between March and April 2020 during the peak of Italy’s lockdown. In March I started to play live concerts regularly on social media. Switching on my phone to connect for 30-40 minutes with the world has been a beautiful and intimate alternative to the spring tour that I regrettably had to postpone. This new release is the memory of those home live concerts, my memory of this time, the memory of a strange and new atmosphere that we won’t forget.”
Ludovico Einaudi’s latest album, Einaudi Undiscovered, released on 18 September 2020, features previously unreleased tracks and highlights curated by the composer from his 25-year career. The collection includes live performances of tracks including ‘Elegy For The Arctic’ and ‘Four Dimensions’ from Steve Jobs’ Theater, a rarely heard vocal version of his most popular composition ‘Nuvole Bianche’ and the ‘Main Theme’ from The Third Murder which was previously only released in Japan.
Ludovico Einaudi explained, “For me it was nice to look back, brush up my memories, being surprised and somehow rediscover myself, and compose a new necklace made of stones of my past.”
Ludovico Einaudi’s new album Einaudi Undiscovered is out now and can be bought here.