Giovanni Allevi is one of the top pure composers of the current international scene. His compositions outline the tenets of a new Contemporary Classical Music, via cultivated and moving language which distances itself from the dodecaphonic and minimalist trend, and thus declaring a new European rhythmic and melodic intensity.
Giovanni Allevi graduated in Piano with top grades from the Conservatorio “F. Morlacchi” in Perugia and in Composition with top grades from the Conservatorio “G. Verdi” in Milan. He also obtained an honours degree in Philosophy, writing his dissertation on "The Void in Contemporary Physics".
Born on 9 April 1969 in Ascoli Piceno, Giovanni, the son of musical parents, spent his childhood completely immersed in classical music. He initially approached the piano furtively, beginning his solitary voyage of discovery of the fundamental elements of musical language: scales, intervals, chords.
Rifling through some vinyl records, he discovered Puccini's "Turandot": at six years of age, he listened to it in its entirety everyday, sitting cross-legged on his sofa. He thus began to memorise the music written by the greats of the past, the symphonies, the concerts for Piano and Orchestras, the masterpieces of literature from the Romantic period and from the early 1900s, music which, for mere fun, he frequently runs through inside his own head. His secret encounters with the piano continued until he was 10 when, during a school recital, he "revealed himself", with a stunning performance of a brief piece by Chopin.
His parents were convinced that Giovanni should follow an academic musical path: he studied piano at the Istituto Musicale “G. Spontini” in Ascoli Piceno with Professor Anna Maria Bucci and he graduated with top grades from the Conservatorio “F. Morlacchi” in Perugia.
Giovanni wrote numerous compositions, but kept them jealously under wraps in a drawer, and he worked extensively as a classical music concert performer all over Italy.
He began to study at the Philosophy faculty at the Università di Macerata and decided to undertake studies in Composition at the Conservatorio “G. Rossini” in Fermo. At the entry exam, he brought along his own Fuga in contrappuntistica style, a musical genre which is usually only tackled in the seventh year of studies, causing one of the examiners to jokingly comment: “Either he copied Fuga or Giovanni Allevi is Brahms come back to life.” Naturally... he didn't copy a thing!
Amongst his teachers in Composition at the conservatory, several left a major impression on him: Maestro Daniele Salvatore, a major authority on Ancient Music, and Maestro Tonino Tesei, from whom he learnt the foundations of dodecaphony and precision in musical calligraphy. In the meantime, he attended the course entitled “Bio-music and Music Therapy” held by Professor Mario Corradini, in which he gained an in-depth knowledge into how music has the power to set one free and to invoke images, emotions and memories.
In 1995 he composed the musical accompaniment to the stage tragedy "The Women of Troy" by Euripides, and at the Festival Internazionale del Dramma Antico in Syracuse (Sicily), he won the special award for best stage music: it was the very first official recognition of his talents. In the same year, he was invited to hold a seminar on "The Music of Our Times" at the Pedagogy University in Stuttgart. For this occasion, he performed for the very first time “Sogno di Bach”, a piece he had composed for the piano, where the Baroque language blends effortlessly into a contemporary rhythm, the first indication of his yearning for renewal.
During his concerts, in addition to pieces by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven and Ravel, he also began to perform his own compositions, arousing enthusiasm and awe. This appreciation led to an idea hatching in Giovanni's mind, that of performing a repertory entirely made up of his own music, and of collecting them together on a CD.
In 1997, he work was received enthusiastically by Lorenzo Cherubini, better known by his stage name Jovanotti, who, with his record label Soleluna, decided to release Giovanni's first album of piano solos entitled “13 DITA” (Soleluna/Universal).
Giovanni proved himself to be a talented musician and a brilliant composer of contemporary classical music: his debut record was extremely well received by the press and it also garnered the attention of major international artists. The Japanese musician Nanae Mimura, one of today's major exponents of solo marimba, in a recital at New York's Carnegie Hall performed some of the compositions from Allevi's debut album, which she herself transcribed for her instrument. Giovanni was thus presented in New York as a young, up and coming Italian composer.
In 1998 he obtained an honours degree in Philosophy. “Physics today reaches the same intuitions that the pre-Socratians and Orientals had: the Universe is a space teeming with energy that we are all part of…” There is a close link between his graduation dissertation (“The Void in Contemporary Physics”) and composition: “…the bizarre behaviour of subatomic particles in our brain can spark off ideas, melodies and sudden thoughts. As in Physics, there is the full and the void; in music, there is sound and silence." Giovanni, who would also go on to be described as “the philosopher of the piano", began to explore the mysterious motivations which are at the basis of artistic creation in his philosophical writings.
Following his degree, he moved to Milan, and in 2001 he obtained a diploma in Composition with top grades at the Conservatorio “G. Verdi”, under the guidance of the Maestro Mario Garuti, from whom he gained exhaustive knowledge of the compositional elements of Darmstadt structuralism and extreme experimentation.
In October 2003, Giovanni released his second album of piano solos entitled “COMPOSIZIONI” (Soleluna/Edel), which outlined in a clear-cut fashion the essential character of his composing style and his desire to restore in a new manner a cultivated and complex language, one that is at the same time affecting and immediate.
In the meantime, his concerts in Italy garnered an increasing amount of attention and praise, but the consecration of his status as a composer on the international stage came with a performance at the Baltimore Opera House (USA), which assigned him the mega-task of reworking the recitatives of Bizet's "Carmen", one of the operas best-known and loved by the world's public.
In 2004 Giovanni debuted in Hong Kong as composer/performer, before an international audience in his first concert abroad, during which he performed a programme made up solely of his own compositions and which was an immediate hit.
He moved to New York, where he began composing new works to be included on his third album of piano solos “NO CONCEPT”, which exudes the cosmopolitan atmosphere of his new home town while consolidating the direction of his musical philosophy.
“NO CONCEPT took shape during those nights of walking in plimsolls on the hot sidewalks of Harlem, with his antenna raised high to capture each and every sound, while his fingers itched with all his absorbed academic learning. NO CONCEPT is the refusal of that idea of "conceptualism at any cost" which denies creativity when it has the vague and pleasant scent of memories past. His music, instrumental, can undoubtedly be called contemporary classical music, but only in the uncomplicated sense that it is today's music: the music of a composer who yearns to interpret the zeitgeist, just as the composers before him have done."
The Album “NO CONCEPT” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG) was released in 2005, in Germany and Korea too, and immediately went gold. In the meantime, the honorary title of “Bösendorfer Artist” was bestowed on Giovanni by the Vienna Bösendorfer for his qualities as a sensitive performer and for the international significance of his artistic expression.
His first major coup was on 6 March 2005 with his United States debut show at the Blue Note in New York, which sold out on both nights, confirming his standing as an up and coming composer, one of the most representative on the international scene. As soon as he left the stage of the most prestigious jazz club in the world, he was invited to hold a seminar on the relationship between Music and Philosophy at New York's School of Philosophy.
And thus began the “No Concept Tour” which visited the USA, Germany, Austria and China before the arriving in Italy, where the public was growing to love Giovanni Allevi's original music, attending his concerts in increasing numbers with mounting enthusiasm.
Upon his return from Shanghai, the last leg of the international tour, Giovanni began composing his fourth work for solo piano, “JOY”, sparked off by a panic attack which overcame him due to “an overload of emotions and joy”.
The album, containing brand new unpublished compositions, was written by Giovanni entirely "in his head", and the very first time they were interpreted was in the recording studio.
“That's how I recorded JOY, without ever having played it previously, apart from in my head: for me, the piano must remain an uncontaminated island to be explored, where technique plays second fiddle to emotions, where the intensity of the moment beats experience." In his language, music becomes intense and communicative, immediacy bursts forth from the resolved complexity. “JOY” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG) was released in September 2006, and reached the Top Ten in the charts selling over 100,000 copies, a feat never before achieved by an album of original compositions for solo piano.
The public begins to follow Giovanni as if he were a rock star: the “Joy Tour” kicked off at the Sala S.Cecilia at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, and took in around 160 dates over 2006 and 2007, in Italy, but also Paris, Vienna, Hamburg, Budapest, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Montreal, Sarajevo, Moscow, Belgrade, Brussels. Every single venue sold out, and the tour reached its peak in a concert of historical importance, in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, before a public of 50,000 people.
Giovanni Allevi became a social phenomenon and elbowed his way into the collective imagination of the new generations: youngish people and the very young discuss his music in blogs, they quickly develop a word of mouth network via texting and on social networking sites to follow his every live show. In the meantime, in conservatories and in music contests, his piano scores, published by Carisch, are studied and played, and many graduate dissertations in a variety of disciplines are dedicated to him.
With Giovanni Allevi, the composer of "pure music" once again has a socially recognised role to play in his own lifetime and, as has often been the case in the past despite not always favourable reviews by the critics who are unable to totally grasp the contemporary phenomenon, the admiration he provokes in his fans is stupefying, as they rediscover a great passion for instrumental music.
During the “Joy Tour”, Giovanni composed the suite for orchestra “Angelo Ribelle”, and the piece for piano and orchestra “300 Anelli”, attracting the attention of the Philarmonische Camerata Berlin, a string orchestra made up of some of the line-up of the prestigious Berliner Philarmoniker. Along with the German ensemble, Giovanni presented his orchestral compositions in Italy in December 2007. The extensive “Joy Tour” had, in the meantime, been immortalised in the shape of a double album entitled “ALLEVILIVE” and the DVD “JOY Tour 2007”.
Thanks to his intellectual commitment to redefining the confines of new contemporary classical music in both Italy and Europe, Giovanni, apart from receiving rave reviews, is also a magnet for the esteem of the Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, of Pope Benedict XVI and many exponents of the world of arts and culture, so much so that the publishing house Rizzoli decided to publish his first book, entitled “LA MUSICA IN TESTA” (Music in my Head). It is a collection of philosophical reflections on music, anecdotes and pages of his diary, all of which neatly enclose the main points of his artistic vision and of the Allevi way of thinking. It closes with the “L’Era dell’Emozione” (The Era of the Emotion), a genuine artistic manifesto.
The book, published in March 2008, scaled the "Various" genre charts for several weeks, and soon became a best-seller. On 3 June 2008, Giovanni Allevi picked up an award at the Wind Music Awards for the sales (over 30,000 copies) of the DVD “JOY Tour 2007”.
Despite a densely-packed diary of commitments during the triumphant sold-out “Allevilive” tour, Giovanni continued, day and night, to dedicate himself to the melodies which "come and visit him, this time in the shape of a symphonic orchestra". This led to the creation of the album which marks his inevitable musical evolution towards the wall of sound of a large-scale orchestra.
And so the album “EVOLUTION” saw the light of day, recorded in April 2008 at Teatro Gentile in Fabriano with the Orchestra Sinfonica “I Virtuosi Italiani” and released on 13 June 2008 by Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG. For the first time, this LP sees Giovanni Allevi as conductor of the orchestra, as well as composer and pianist. The release of the album was followed by another extensive tour which brought Giovanni Allevi onto the stage the length and breadth of Italy, with all 25 dates sold-out. In the same period, he also performed at the Auditorium in the Forbidden City of Beijing on 22 August during the XXIX edition of the Olympic Games, where Allevi was accompanied by the China Philharmonic Orchestra.
On 12 October, Giovanni Allevi received the 12 Apostoli-Montblanc 2008 award for "services to art".
The Orient once again played host to Allevi on tour in November, following the release of "Joy" in Japan.
In the meantime, the photographs documenting the “L’EVOLUTION TOUR” were made into a book. On 26 November, Rizzoli published “IN VIAGGIO CON LA STREGA” (Travelling with the Witch) in which, between anecdotes and intimate reflections by the artist, we witness the anxieties and joys of living according to the whims of a "capricious witch" like Music.
To close 2008, on 28 November, “ALLEVIALL” was released, the first set of CDs/DVDs by the composer and pianist. It includes the studio albums “No concept”, “Joy” and “Evolution” and the live Giovanni Allevi DVD ”Joy Tour 2007”.
ALLEVI'S 2008 closed with a bang, thanks to another important achievement: Giovanni Allevi was the youngest musician ever in the Italy's musical history to perform as both conductor and pianist at the "Christmas Concert", the traditional institutional concert organised by Italy's Senate in the awe-inspiring hall of Palazzo Madama in Rome. Broadcast live on Rai1 and in Eurovision, it was held in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic and the country's most prominent statesmen and women.
Giovanni Allevi's 2009 opened with an invitation by the TV presenter Paolo Bonolis, to the 59th edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, to launch events as guest of honour on the third and most important evening of the Italian music festival.
The first half of 2009 will see Giovanni Allevi take on an exhaustive live tour both in Italy and abroad with two separate projects revolving around his compositions: “Piano Solo 2009“, in which Giovanni returns to the solo piano in his most intimate and personal dimension, and the "Symphonic Concerts" with Orchestras, organised with the vital collaboration of prestigious operatic and cultural institutions.
The main event of the year will be the “Evolution” concert at the Arena in Verona on 1 September 2009, which will see Giovanni Allevi as conductor and pianist accompanied by an “All Star Orchestra” made up of the virtuosi of prestigious orchestras in the world.
- (1997) “13 Dita” (Soleluna/Universal)
- (2003) “Composizioni” (Soleluna/Edel)
- (2005) “No Concept” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG)
- (2006) “Joy” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG)
- (2007) “Allevilive” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG)
- (2008) “Evolution” (Bollettino/Ricordi-Sony BMG)
- (2008) “Alleviall” (Bollettino/RCA-Sony Music)
Visit the artist's website: www.giovanniallevi.com - www.myspace.com/giovanniallevi - www.youtube.com/alleviofficial - www.alleviani.com
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