Interview by Esther Basha (MGBH)
Although he competed and won titles in many prestigious international piano events, this is not what defines Luigi Carroccia, a 25- year-old Italian pianist from Valle Marina. He brings his own unique style into interpretations of well-known compositions through his multifaceted personality and character. From his story we can see that an early start isn’t always a prerequisite for a successful career as a pianist.
PPM: Please, tell our readers a little bit about your family.
LC: My mother dedicated her time to educating my brothers and me. The most important values for her are family, loyalty and respect – so these are the values I grew up with. My grandfather was very passionate about music. He learnt to play a lot of instruments by himself (clarinet, saxophone, accordion, piano) and later started working on fixing instruments and manufacturing accordions. He passed on his passion to my father who had an academic education in piano, but mainly played, and still does, the accordion. I have two younger brothers. We are very close in age so we grew up together. Both of them studied music, one got his Bachelor’s in Clarinet, but started another career afterwards while my youngest brother will graduate soon in Accordion.
PPM: Where in Italy did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
LC: I grew up in a very small town in the south of Rome called Valle Marina. It is a place with a very small population and only a few stores. It is surrounded by mountains and is very close to the sea. For me as a child it was a wonderful place to spend my days there. There are a lot of vineyards and fields, so I used to take long walks, play soccer or wander in the mountains. The days where never long enough to play outdoors with my friends.
I actually started learning piano very late. I was about 13-14 years old. <…> I started preparing my admission exam with him and in a shortly discovered I loved the piano much more than the accordion.
PPM: When and under what circumstances did you start learning piano?
LC: I actually started learning piano very late. I was about 13-14 years old. I grew up in a musical family, but until then I only played the accordion. Later I decided I wanted to enter the Conservatory, and my father thought I would have a broader education if I studied piano. I started preparing my admission exam with him and in a shortly discovered I loved the piano much more than the accordion.
PPM: What was the first competition you entered and what did it take to compete there?
LC: My first important Competition was the Busoni Competition in 2015.
Today pianists start competing at a very young age while I started when I was already 24. I really didn’t have much expectation because of this, but inside I knew I had my point of view to share. I prepared and practiced a lot before the Competition and when I passed the preliminary audition it was a huge accomplishment for me.
PPM: Who are some of your favorite composers?
LC: There are things about almost every composer that I really love. So, it is difficult for me to choose. If you ask me, whose compositions I love performing the most though, I would say Schubert (OBM), Chopin (OBM), and Scriabin (OBM).
PPM: Where do you live now and what is your typical day like?
LC: I still live in Valle Marina – my childhood town. I am not a morning person, so I like starting my day calmly with a nice breakfast and some physical exercise to wake up.
When I am not travelling, I spend my days practicing and listening to music. If I have the time, I love cooking and watching movies. I try to go swimming twice a week and when it’s possible, I enjoy playing soccer with my friends.
PPM: What was it like for you to participate in the Fryderyk Chopin Competition? What repertoire did you play?
LC: It was an amazing experience. Of course, there was lot of pressure, but the atmosphere was exciting. You could feel that the Competition is not only a piano competition, but also an important cultural and social event for the entire city. The public was so warm, and I really loved Warsaw.
The rules of the Competition required to play one piece from each genre, so I played some etudes, mazurkas, a waltz, a nocturne, the Polonaise op.53, Polonaise Fantasy, Barcarolle and Preludes op. 28.
PPM: What are your performance plans for the 2018 season?
LC: I am very excited I will be going to China for the first time. I am also very happy I will perform some chamber music, which I played very rarely until now.
The important thing for me is only to live intensely through every performance and give the best I have in that moment.
PPM: What was the performance that you were most proud of?
LC: Each one of my performances is different depending on my mood and inspiration, so I am not able to choose one, they just are very different. The important thing for me is only to live intensely through every performance and give the best I have in that moment.
PPM: What is the most complicated piano piece that you have not played yet, but would like to master?
LC: Right now my goal is to play all of Chopin’s etudes from op.10 and op. 25. I think they are very demanding mentally, physically and emotionally. So, it will be very challenging.
PPM: What are some of your favorite places in the city where you live?
LC: I am very lucky to live near the beach and the mountains. These are my favorite places to recharge during periods of intense activity.
PPM: What inspires you in life?
LC: It depends on the periods. At the moment, I am reading about and inspired by the stories of people who managed to overcome their limits or handicaps living great lives and achieving amazing results. However, I can find inspiration in many other ways. Sometimes, listening to music, reading a book or watching a movie, talking to people, visiting new places or even from unexpected experiences.
PPM: Do you compose music?
LC: I don’t compose but in the future I would love to start.
PPM: Can you share any funny stories from your performances?
LC: It was summer and I was playing in a beautiful venue outdoors. In the middle of the performance a cockroach came out of the keyboard and started walking in and out from the keys. I had to finish playing expecting it to come out again every moment. Every time I think about it, I find it very funny.
PPM: Thank you, Luigi! We wish you luck in your future competitions!