Why do we listen to sad music? We asked pianist Igor Levit

21 October 2018, 12:22

By Sofia Rizzi

Igor Levit has been hailed as ‘one of the essential artists of his generation’ by The New York Times. We spoke to him about his new album, ‘Life’, and why grief is the strand that runs through it.

Igor Levit describes his new album as “a hymn to life, but in many different variations”, and the pianist was prompted to create it by the death of a close friends.

But why do we turn to music in times of grief?

“Music is the one limitless kind of art we have. It has no limit,” he told us. “It’s like air – you can’t touch it. It only exists within your own imagination.”

The album includes Schumann's 'Ghost Variations', Wagner's 'Solemn March' (transcribed by Liszt) and Bill Evans' Peace Piece.

The music on the album, Levit explains, was a way to express himself, and the listener can take what they want from it: “this is the beauty about music – it belongs to everyone.”

Igor Levit has also made a name for himself as a musician unafraid to discuss politics.

“You have responsibilities as a citizen [to give your political opinion], otherwise democracy doesn’t work,” he said.

Igor Levit’s new album Life is released on Sony Classical.