n. 11 Apr 2010 Tereza Salgueiro
n. 7 Aug 2009 Marco Moro
n. 6 Jun 2009 Marco Martuzzi
n. 5 Apr 20089 Serenella Iovino
n. 4 Aug 2008 Seamus Egan
n. 3 Apr 2008 Giovanni Allevi
n. 2 Feb 2008 Marco Bicego
n. 1 Nov 2007 Jan Garbarek

Online bimonthly
Reg. at Vicenza Court No. 1165 on 18 December 2007
Editor and director Bianca Nardon
Redazione STEP Srl ContrĂ  Porti, 3 Vicenza

Year I n. 3 March/April 2008

Meeting with Giovanni Allevi

The musician talks about his book "La musica in testa" (Ed. Rizzoli)

Milan, 4 March 2008 Press conference

Giovanni, how much of your philosophy studies have you put into the book?

Writing this book helped me get over a state of anxiety. They are thoughts I developed when I moved to Milan at the age of 28 and lived for two years in a state of almost complete isolation in a small bed-sit. I worked as a waiter to get by and completed my composition studies at the conservatory. I was worried about 'being thrown into existence', as the philosopher Heidegger said. I worked out my philosophical thoughts on the piano. But the piano is only a pretext. In the book I talk about giving up, about a vigilant silence of the mind, about letting existence gradually manifest its gifts without forcing events. They are philosophical ideas that started from my almost desperate condition. But I come to conclusions that could be summarised in an acceptance of my fragility and the difficulty of existence, and at the same time in a recognition of the extraordinary value the everyday can give. Sometimes the everyday gives us wonderful flashes of perception, we need only be receptive and able to recognise them.

Anxiety comes mainly from an inability to give in. The artist usually seeks perfection. His eye and his finger are sharper. How did you come rather to this concept of giving in that presupposes great humility? (Mario Luzzatto Fegis)

When I came to live in Milan, it was a time marked by my direct confrontation with the Academy and therefore with impossibility. My capacity for waiting developed from this experience. Each time a door closed, I gradually learnt to understand that I was actually being given a signal. A signal that told me that that wasn't the road to take and that I was probably destined for something much greater, to not go into a pre-determined system, but to build another, new one, which I now see before my eyes. It's a human, existential pathway, accompanied by philosophical reflection. This is summarised in the fact that giving in and activism are not two contrasting things. Letting things happen means being receptive and ready to accept the gifts that existence can constantly offer us.

Does God come into this? (Mario Luzzatto Fegis)

Yes, the last lines open up a piece on transcendence. Looking at the world through the eyes of music and with a creative attitude means removing the veil of banality from the everyday and immediately perceiving it as something mysterious. I stop at the mystery of existence. I do not want to make any theological kind of theory, but the step from the human being's depth of creativity to transcendence is very short.

Has your desire to write got anything to do with the time you spent working with Jovanotti? He's known to be an inveterate scribbler.

I think of it more as a continuation of my university philosophy studies. I had to find my own language that would allow me to bring together those philosophical experiences in my daily existence. For example there was a concert at the Villa Arconati, outside Milan. While I was playing a rhythmic dance piece, a cicada started chirping to a different rhythm. It immediately put me in difficulty. As I was playing I decided to adapt my rhythm to that of the cicada. Then I gave myself up to philosophical thoughts on Fichte. He is the philosopher who studies the relationship between man and nature. Fichte sees a limit in nature to which man must constantly adapt. The cicada was Fichte's nature and I was the man. If the cicada had come with me it would have been an extraordinary event, even for Fichte. Nature would no longer have been a limit and would have come towards man. But no. The cicada continued following its rhythm unperturbed and even carried on chirping after the piece. Nature's perfect, Newtonian clock continued regardless of human events, which were in that case my performance.

You often count to put a name to music. Why?

Associating musical notes with the letters of the alphabet was something that was already done in the middle ages and also used by Bach. A letter of the alphabet can be associated with every sound. I think that inside we are all made of music, otherwise we wouldn't be able to be moved by listening to it. The names of the people I meet can be turned into melodies and often finish up in the meanderings of my compositions.

Why did you want to explain to the public how one of your pieces is conceived?

My fans are an inspiration for my music, they write me letters and emails of a disarming beauty. I now have a completely new idea about young people and the new generations. They want to find something else, they have personally experienced the collapse of the world of images. They have a new poetry and I am convinced they will lead us to a new Renaissance. The explanation of how the music is conceived is a response to their questions. They are people who want to look into the creative motivations that lead to a musical composition or other work of art, to analyse their own creative process. They are mostly university students, researchers, poets, artists.

How will this new Renaissance you speak of come about? (by Comete)

At the origin of violence, conflict, totalitarianism, inequality, there is reason. If we leave room for the emotions, for our most profound self rather than reason, we arrive at respect and recognition of others as mystery, not as label. And from here a new communication between men can arise. I think a time of the emotions will come and that that of the glorification of scientific thinking end. Young people talk to me not about concepts, but emotions. They have a need to start flying high again, wanting to imagine and dream up new things, great and important works, comparable to a new Mona Lisa, a new Eiffel Tower, a Nobel Prize.

Do you think this process of renewal should come about partly through events with a particular impact on man and his environment? (by Comete)

Paradoxically, I have no relationship with nature, not even for creative inspiration. Music comes to me regardless of where I am. This contact and meeting often happens in places that are non-places, for example the underground, the train station, all the places where I am in contact with humanity dispersed and thrown into existence. They are important places for me. It seem paradoxical, but I'm happy in the smog, in the city traffic. I am sure there will be a technological development that will free us from pollution. Intelligent minds moved by emotion will allow us to formulate new things that were unthinkable yesterday. Even the problem of using alternative energies will be solved. But I like accepting daily existence and the opening of meaning and poetry that occurs even in a scenario that is not at all reassuring.

When is your next CD coming out?

In June. It will be an album for piano and orchestra. Anyway, when the music comes to me, knocks at my head and asks to be developed in a musical composition, I don't think about the recording project at all. The market demands set standards of length, time, number of tracks. I rather claim that the music is an absolute master and a capricious witch who monopolises my life and to whom I owe total devotion. The music comes first, then it can probably become a CD.

Two pieces of yours have been chosen for important advertisements, becoming soundtracks. Will you also write music on commission in future?

Spike Lee used my piece 'Come sei veramente' for a BMW ad. In just a few months it became known almost all over the world. I am pleased and delighted that my music is used; this way I really can be a contemporary musician, not detached from the rest of the world. But at the moment I am continuing to create independently and I believe in my way of creating music in an uncontaminated way.

What do you think about the relationship between music and words?

Music, not having words, gives the individual the chance to express himself, without being battered by a message. A new generation of young people is approaching my music, precisely because there are no words.

What is your view of the audience from the stage, compared to the first concert when you had five people?

It is an experience that has never left me. That evening I realised that music has nothing to do with numbers, but with people, who are unique, unrepeatable individuals. I cannot let myself be influenced by the number, by the need to have lots of people. I am happy that the success now overwhelming me came late, when I had acquired a bit of wisdom. And I am happy that my success came through failure.

What do you do when you aren't composing? How do you spend your spare time?

There isn't a tenth of a second of my life when I don't think of music. I like isolation and luckily I have friends who drag me out. But my passion for music is awesome. It is something that doesn't let me sleep at night. I can't switch off and devote myself to it only at some moments.

Apart from being a passion, do you feel that creating music is also a duty? (by Comete)

To me it is a duty, a categorical imperative to have absolute dedication to music. All the rest is a consequence. It may take me to great success or the most complete anonymity. But the important thing is to live out your own passions and your own destiny, your own talent to the utmost, with your whole self. This allows you to live intensely for yourself and for others. Things may then go one way or another, but this is not what's important. If Odysseus had got to Ithaca by train in 15 minutes we wouldn't be here talking about it.

The material contained on these pages may not be circulated without authorisation and may not be used for commercial purposes
Online bimonthly
Reg. at Vicenza Court No. 1165 on 18 December 2007
Editor and director Bianca Nardon
Redazione STEP Srl Contrá Porti, 3 Vicenza