Alessandro deljavan piano masterclass

Interview to Maestro Alessandro Deljavan

We had the pleasure of interviewing Maestro Alessandro Deljavan, who will hold his piano masterclass at the Livorno Music Festival from August 7th to 13th. In this conversation, we will explore the highlights of his career, from the beginning of his studies to international performances, focusing on his relationship with the instrument and his approach to music.

You started studying the piano even before she was two years old and had her first debut at the age of three. So I imagine it all started a bit like a real game. Do you remember when the piano stopped being just a game and started to become a possibility for a career?

I think very late, actually, around 18 years old, something like that. I had already graduated when I started to seriously consider the piano as “work,” as a profession. During a lesson at the Academy of Como with this famous Chinese pianist, Fou Ts’ong, who recently passed away, he made me understand, in his own ways, that it was evidently time to turn it into a “real-life” as a musician. I don’t know if I did well to follow his advice, let’s say.

How did you feel about it at the time? Was it something you perceived positively, or were you afraid of losing what had always been something you did with carefreeness?

I had already done several concerts at that age, I had experienced the relationship with the audience in different ways, only that talking to him, and listening to what he had to tell me, I had seen for the first time, maybe in my life, a man who lived for music, right? And who made it the main reason for his life, and this completely captivated me. In short, I was completely taken by this person who then became a beacon for me in every way.

Of course, during your career, you have had the opportunity to perform practically all over the world; has the encounter with different cultures somehow influenced your musical style?

Let’s say that we musicians, in general, have very fixed ideals, and I like to think that we don’t change our minds so easily. We are very sure of who we are and what we have achieved over the years of study. So, I think it’s very difficult, after a certain age, to change approaches and be influenced. Certainly, the encountered cultures are part of the musician, but I don’t believe they influence him.

As a very young musician, you performed as a soloist with very important orchestras; do you remember how you felt the first time you found yourself playing under the baton of important conductors and alongside renowned musicians?

Yes, the feeling is always the same. It’s one of a certain discomfort, I must say. Sharing the stage with a few musicians, and performing a chamber concert is something very different; you try to find yourself somehow, individually, and then in small groups. However, when it comes to interacting with each individual instrumentalist, 80 different people, it becomes somewhat different; you don’t feel this situation. I don’t particularly enjoy the relationship with the orchestra in general. Obviously, it must be done because it’s part of the activity, only there are a few moments when I truly feel free to express myself with an orchestra and a conductor nearby.

You have won numerous international competitions, and then after the age of 26, you retired from the world of competitions; how do you evaluate the importance of these events in a young musician’s career?

First of all, I lost, especially many times. I lost more than I won, and it was certainly a great strength, a great incentive to try to improve, to try to do better; not to change, but to do better. Certainly, competitions today offer visibility for a young musician, especially this. Now, in the most important ones, there is the possibility of streaming, so there is a sort of “cheering” where you are somehow followed. I think it’s nice because today you may not win, but you may be called to perform concerts because you are particularly esteemed. So overall, if I can, I try to encourage my students to participate even though competitions are not for everyone because, not being a sport, the best almost never wins, typically. This must be understood; it’s not easy to understand for a very young person, well, a young person in general.

They shouldn’t be discouraged.

Maybe they should understand that typically the first prize of a major competition is usually a monster because it has to appeal to eleven, or thirteen completely different musicians who then actually agree in a somewhat ambiguous way, let’s say. So they should understand that a recognizable personality is very difficult to be recognized in an international competition today.

You started studying the piano at a very young age; have you ever found yourself having to start over, perhaps with a different posture or awareness of your body as you grew older?

I must say that every time I changed teachers, or someone wanted to push me toward a new musical approach, I think that person always understood that nature, in general, cannot be changed. So, a particular physical approach may change over time, but there are different schools that impose the use of a certain posture, both of the hand and arm… but I believe that when you start, especially very young, you automatically arrive at something natural that is then very difficult to change. So, I’m not generally for radical change, and thank God it has never happened to me; in fact, it even happened that I wanted to start a journey with someone who instead tried to almost come “against me,” and I immediately avoided that.

Also because when you start at such a young age, you are child prodigies, and not always, then, do we find child prodigies as established artists in adulthood.

I think a child’s nature is actually so right. So it’s hard for a child to think about articulating every key, right? Instead, certain schools force you to do something, maybe to strengthen yourself in a very unnatural way, and that’s where the child says, “You know what? I’ll play soccer,” typically, right? And that’s often good. Because, among other things, it also makes more money.

Yes, not just probably. Then indeed, hardly does a child sit at the piano with an uncomfortable posture; they sit as they feel most comfortable.

Absolutely. Yes, even with the hand, with the arm… I don’t teach children because I don’t have the ability or the talent, but when I see a child starting out, usually the posture seems right to me, it seems consistent with their situation as a child and as a beginner at the piano.

Who is the composer with whom you feel most in tune?

It’s very complicated. These are feelings that vary a lot over periods, right? Today I feel comfortable with Chopin, Bach, and maybe with Schubert. With these three in general at the moment, I feel like this and I’m trying as much as possible to play these things.

Maestro, we thank you very much for the time you have dedicated to us.

We invite all pianists to sign up for your masterclass; we look forward to seeing them from August 7th to 13th at the Livorno Music Festival.

We remind you that all Livorno Music Festival students can participate in the selection to play with the masters on the festival stage, and that some instrumentalists will be able to participate in the selection to play as soloists with the Mascagni Conservatory Orchestra in the concert on September 1st, 2024, scheduled in the program of concerts of the XIV edition of the Livorno Music Festival. All information is available on the dedicated page Prizes and Competitions


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