Ludovico Einaudi: I Giorni
Ludovico Maria Enrico Einaudi was born in Turin, Italy in 1955. Einaudi began to compose his own music when he reached his teen years, with his main musical tool being a guitar. He decided to study formally and gained a place at the prestigious Conservatorio Verdi in Milan, where he was awarded a diploma in composition in 1982. One of Einaudi’s most influential tutors was composer Luciano Berio, with whom he learned how to orchestrate music effectively.
Einaudi’s music has transitioned and developed over many years, from traditional classical forms to multimedia uses such as film and TV. He has composed advertisement music for organisations such as British Airways, BBC, Amazon and Sky. His music is known and commended often for its ambience, minimalism and accessibility.
Einaudi is primarily known for his solo piano works. His albums Le Onde (1996), Eden Roc (1999), I Giorni (2001) and Divenire (2006) have achieved international success. Most of Einaudi’s albums are collaborative with other musicians including the likes of Djivan Gasparijan, Ballaké Sissoko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The piano lies at the centre of many of Einaudi’s works, however his creative use of other instruments such as harp, strings, kora and synthesizers makes his music even more dynamic.
I Giorni translates into English as ‘The Days’ and is the title track from the 2001 album I Giorni. The work has been featured on TV programmes about art and culture, as well as appearing in an advertisement for the telecom giant Airtel. It entered the UK Singles Chart in 2011, after it was aired on BBC Radio 1 by Greg James. By 2017 I Giorni was certified silver for the 200,000 copies it had sold in the UK.
Composed for solo piano, I Giorni was inspired by a 12th century folk song that originates from Mali. The song covers the issues around hippo hunting and how that affects humans. This theme is resonated throughout the whole album, with each piece representing these emotions and becoming one long lament.
Einaudi often composes in a minimalist style and this can be identified through his use of repetitive sequences, which are often shown in broken chords, alberti bass patterns and measured chord changes. I Giorni uses the classic set up of left hand playing an accompanying part to the largely melodic right hand. The repeated pattern in the left hand is something that is taken throughout the whole piece, the only difference being the nuanced chord changes.
The opening of the piece presents the melody in its simplest form, and this is then used as a foundation for the rest of the work. Einaudi decorates the melody by using triplets, semiquavers and grace notes to create a sense of development throughout the music.
The music reaches an intense point which is followed by a short pause. This then signifies the return to the opening simplistic theme, which is played quietly and with less intensity than the phrase before. This is Einaudi trying to pull on your heartstrings here as it is very easy to get washed away with music such as this. The beguiling music ends on the tonic chord at the end, representing a peaceful close to this lament.
Often associated with peace and mindfulness, Einaudi’s works are still incredibly popular around the globe today, with many performing his works in concert halls. His simple yet effective framework of composing has become an accessible gateway for many to get into classical music – that certainly cannot be denied!
Ⓒ Alex Burns