10 best works by pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi
25 January 2022, 15:38 | Updated: 25 January 2022, 16:04
Einaudi is known for his simple but hauntingly beautiful minimalist works for the piano, and stunning film music. Here is some of the best music he’s written so far.
He has composed numerous works for ballet, stage and screen, and in 1982 he won a scholarship for the Tanglewood Music Festival. It was there that he came into contact with the new trends of American minimalist composition. He’d soon adopted the genre’s style and ethos, developing his now-instantly recognisable minimalist voice.
In 1992 he released Stanze, which he describes as “a journey towards the essential, in search of maximum intensity with the bare minimum,” an album of harp music he collaborated on with harpist Cecilia Chailly.
Four years later, Einaudi followed up with his first solo album, Le Onde, which captured international attention. Here are some of his other great works to date.
A lesser known Einaudi piece, Stanze is a 16-movement piece for the harp, first recorded by Italian harpist and composer, Cecilia Chailly. The two musicians collaborated to create a work that they describe as “a journey towards the essential, in search of maximum intensity with the bare minimum.”
It’s minimalist and gorgeous, each movement representing a different room (‘stanza’) in the same house.
Le Onde (1996)
Le Onde was Einaudi’s first solo album, and the first that took his name worldwide.
Inspired by the stories of English literary great, Virginia Woolf, it’s the first collection that really demonstrates the Italian minimalist master’s ability to aspire to beautiful simplicity – picking harmonious keys, wrapping lovely patterns of notes round them, and repeating these to the point of utmost calm.
The title track Le Onde (‘The Waves’) is lilting and contemplative.
Eden Roc (1999)
This gem from the turn of the decade is named after hotels and regions of the same name, and contains music that would later be used in the 2006 film, This Is England.
The strings on the album are played by Quartetto David and Djivan Gasparyan appears playing the duduk, an ancient Armenian double reed instrument.
I Giorni (2001)
With the I Giorni collection, Einaudi very much picks up the strength of Le Onde and runs with it. Or, more accurately, floats gently. ‘I Giorni’ means ‘The Days’ and was inspired by a trip the composer took to Mali.
In 2011, broadcaster Greg James played the title track on mainstream radio, and it entered the UK Singles Charts at No.32 on 12 June that year.
Doctor Zhivago (2002)
Einaudi’s music has featured in many films. Einaudi composed the score for the 2002 film adaptation of Doctor Zhivago.
He composed an incredibly beautiful and moving soundtrack for Boris Pasternak’s epic 1957 novel.
In his 2006 collection, Einaudi expanded his piano soundworld and embraced the full power of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra when recording it.
Highlights from Divenire, which means ‘to become’, include the title track, and the monumental and moving ‘Primavera’.
In 2009, Einaudi released his album Nightbook. The composer himself describes the project fittingly as a nocturnal work, one that “projects the piano like a shadow, in all directions”.
The piece ‘Nightbook’ itself is idiosyncratic Einaudi – unapologetically simple and repetitive, but profoundly poignant.
The Water Diviner (2014)
The Water Diviner is an Australian film, directed and starring Russell Crowe, which follows a desperate Australian farmer who travels to Turkey just after the First World War to find his three sons who never returned.
Einaudi’s original music for the film is characteristically piano-led and minimal, at once evocative of both the landscapes and the profound emotion of the plot that it accompanies.
Seven Days Walking (2019)
In 2019, Einaudi embarked on an ambitious project to release seven albums in seven consecutive months, and the exquisite Seven Days Walking was complete by September.
The seven albums of sublimely beautiful, meditatively calm music were inspired by a wintery walk in the Alps.
In January 2022, Einaudi released his first full album for solo piano in over 20 years. A true pandemic passion project, Underwater was born from the free-thinking and lack of time pressure afforded to the composer by lockdown.
Einaudi described the making of the album: “It came naturally, more than ever before [...] I didn’t have a filter between me and what came out of the piano; it felt very pure. The title Underwater is a metaphor – it is an expression of a very fluid dimension, without interference from outside.”