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Why Ludovico loves to score

'I prefer to put the label on my wine," says 55-year-old Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi. It's a peculiar answer to what seemed like a straightforward enough question -- how would the man describe his own music? He has, after all, discussed on several occasions, his dislike of definitions and labels.

"The language of my music grows from a wide ground," he says, "In a way, it is classical music, but the roots are coming from folk and popular music. It's part of a language that everyone speaks and everyone can understand, so it's the way you tell your story using this language that makes the difference."

It is further proof of Einaudi's refreshing sophistication as both a gifted musician and, indeed, a person. Having learned his trade as a student at the Milan Conservatory (one of the most prestigious music colleges in Italy) Einaudi would devote most of his early adult life to composing music for operas, ballet and theatre productions. That is, until he hit his late 30s and realised that something was missing. Over the last couple of decades, an inexhaustible work-rate, taking in a number of studio albums and live tours, has made him one of the world's most popular contemporary composers.

These days, he performs around 80 to 90 concerts a year, and his performance at London's Royal Albert Hall earlier this year was even recorded for a new live album and DVD. Having your music featured on TV shows and adverts helps raise the profile. Even better when you've composed the score for an entire film; most notably Shane Meadows' critically acclaimed This Is England. Some of his work was also on the soundtrack to the 2008 Academy Award-winning motion picture The Reader, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

"I choose very carefully what I do because I need to be inspired by the project," he says. "I never wanted to do scoring a film as a job, so I don't like to do every project that comes, but I want to be inspired by the story, by the situation, by the potential that I see with my music together with the film, and so something has to resonate. I have to be mesmerised by the project."

What is it that makes for the perfect film score?

"It is when I feel that the combination of the images and the feeling of the story and the music creates something that opens a sort of silence inside yourself," he offers, "and you start to be surprised -- to be touched, and you suddenly feel that you are in the middle of an emotion that you didn't expect."

He's from quite a recognised family. He was born in Turin in 1955, his father one of Italy's most famous publishers, while his grandfather, Luigi Einaudi, served as the second president of the Italian Republic.

"Music was giving so much to me that I couldn't stay away from it. And so I never thought about doing something else," he says, when I ask if he had felt inclined to follow in their footsteps. His mother may have played the piano to him as a child, but it was '60s and '70s rock -- Stones, Beatles, Hendrix -- that Einaudi grew up on. Which is why I'm surprised that the guy never wanted to become a professional guitarist instead.

"Well, I actually played the guitar for a while," he replies. "I think I felt that I needed to explore more. To express myself completely, I needed to go in another direction than just taking a guitar and playing a good song. But in a way, I think all this language made the base for my music. I've great admiration and consideration for this amount of music that I heard, and I still hear today, because I still like to hear new bands."

As Einaudi further explains, writing and performing music is part of his DNA. But while he enjoys what he does immensely, he looks forward to one day taking some time off in order to experience a normal, everyday life. Little things, such as buying his own food. And cooking it. "Sometimes, I like to go back to the simple life of everyone", he says, "and the idea of spending one year in the countryside or in the mountains would be fantastic."

Ludovico Einaudi plays the National Concert Hall on Thursday


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