Uto Ughi Vs Giovanni Allevi – The sparring match

Here is the sparring match between Uto Ughi, famous classical Italian violinist, and Giovanni Allevi, young Italian pianist, writer and composer, man of the moment. During an interview given to the Italian newspaper “La Stampa”, Uto Ughi levelled serious charges against the pianist, according to him, become symbol of Italy, where talent and capabilities don’t prevail as much as appearances. “His popularity offends me. A dwarfish compared to Horovits or Rubinstein”, continues the violinist, defining Allevi’s music as “a sly collage. Nothing new.” And, talking about the New Year’s Eve Concert, where Allevi was conductor for a while, the master is struck-dumb, “a sorry sight, where the greatest State Authorities acclaimed “this very poor musician”.

His authoritative opinion caused a great deal of comment: websites, shows and culture sections taken by storm by thousand characters in the newspapers, article after article, supporting or disclaiming him.

And the message hasn’t been late in coming to Allevi’s ears, who has immediately countered with new and burning statements. He makes the caste matter rise again: “There are few people sharing musical power, a caste, tied up to commit their art idea and their existence”. So, this wave of novelty has caused to tilt just this old cultural background, whose one of the most exponents is Ughi himself. Besides, Allevi reasserts his right to be a musician: “I took a Piano Diploma with 10/10 mark. I also took a Composition Diploma with full marks. I published my piano scores. I took a philosophy degree, graduated with honours and I published my works”.

And if his music goes straight to people’s heart, it is not important if technically poor or advanced, but it is essential the message arrives full of its meaning. This is what Allevi tried and is still trying to do.

And what do you think?

Do you agree with Allevi or Uto Ughi?

Let’s discuss it together, after having read the full version of these two interviews, reported here below (source: http://romalive.wordpress.com/2008/12/28/uto-ughi-vs-giovanni-allevi).

P.S. My opinion is conflicting. I won’t say anything in order not to influence you, I’ll wait for you opinions.

Sandro Cappelletto from “La Stampa”

ALLEVI CLEAR OFF – LONG LIVE UTO UGHI, WHO SLAUGHTERS THE MOST MEDIA PUMPED UP PIANIST: “HIS  popularity offends me. A dwarfish compared to Horovits or Rubinstein” – “Never be tired to remember Zucchero is not Beethoven”…

“What a sorry sight to see the greatest State Authorities acclaiming this very poor musician. The most ridiculous was the Honourable Fini, he nearly kneeled down before that star”. Uto Ughi didn’t exactly appreciated the Christmas concert promoted by the Republic Senate, having the pianist Giovanni Allevi as the guest star.

Our violinist listened to it – “till the end, incredulous” – from his house in Busto Arsizio (VA) and he felt “offended as a musician. Pianist? He thinks he is a composer, a philosopher, a poet and a writer too. What I can’t stand much is the media investment made on a non-original lacking of humbleness interpreter. His popularity is a perfect thermometer of our Country situation: appearances always prevail”.

Q: According to you, what’s wrong with Allevi? His music or his words?

“His compositions are so ludicrous and this modesty of results comes with his originality self-exalting statements. If he mentions the great pianists of the past, it’s only in order to affirm that, unlike them, he is a composer too. This way, he insults the really great interpretations: he is a dwarfish, compared to Horowitz and Rubinstein, but also compared to Modugno and Mina. I want it to be clear.

Q: How can you describe his music?

“His music is a sly collage. Nothing new. His popularity is a consequence of relativism triumph: the science of nothing, as Claudio Magris wrote. I’ll never be tired to remember that Beethoven is not Zucchero and Zucchero is not Beethoven. But Zucchero has a more recognizable personality compared to Allevi’s one”

Q: There’s more pain than rage within your words.

“This truth and taste pollution really hurts me. I find guilty that institutions could bear out such a misunderstanding. Evidently, the Republic Senate music consultants are people without any depth. Everything is right: the artistic and cultural modesty of those who direct our Opera Theatres or cultural associations allows the frightful cut occurred with the last government regulations. Weak interlocutors make every ruin possible, they have blunt weapons to face them”.

Q: What do you think about Allevi as a performer?

“In other times, he wouldn’t have been admitted to the conservatoire”.

Q: He considers himself as an heir and an innovative of classic tradition.

“He has no relationship with the music we call as classical, neither the old nor the new one. This is an unbearable misunderstanding. And even in his field, there are pianists, singers, instrumentalists and composers more relevant than him”.

Q. But he results as a really relevant media and commercial phenomenon.

“It is a general and furious exaltation behind which actually a great marketing investment is active. It comes as a surprise to me how some reliable newspapers could grant him so much space, often through an uncritical way. Andrea Bocelli is popular too, but he is never stuck-up in self-speaking. As a musician does, he knows which his limits are”.

Q: Allevi is young. Would you give him some advice?

“He should think three times before speaking. He should be humble and careful. But maybe, nor he is the responsible of what he says”.

Q: There is a nearly messianic side in what he states, inside this self-investiture as regards his role in the future of music.

“He considers himself as a prophet of a new music and speaks as if he really is. New music? Nonsense!”.

Q: But how could be interpreted this obscure message of his: “My music will have an impact on classical music as well as Islam towards Western Civilization.

He clearly thinks Allevi and Islam are going to win. Please, don’t swallow these pieces of nonsense”.

Allevi’s reply to the violinist: “A blind and violent attack to me”


I came out from the senate house at 15.30, with a red tie in my pocket.  I was given it by a child, who came to the concert with his parents: “Here you are Giovanni, this is for you. I wore it for you for the first time in my life”. Outside, and it was a great surprise to me, I found a big crowd gathered in front of Palazzo Madama, to cheer up the orchestra professors and me. Dear master Ughi, these are the unforgettable memories will be always kept in my heart, indissolubly related to that concert. Now, just on this table, I have a crumpled sheet of paper reporting an autograph. Of course, during these years I had the honour of signing lots of them. But the one I have here with me, I did wanted it. This is the only autograph I have ever asked for to an artist. That ten years ago night, I was coming back to my little bed-sitting room from a crammed Verdi Concert Hall in Milan conservatoire, with that little sheet in my pocket, as if it were a jewel. It hadn’t been easy to me to reach the star dressing room, for no one like me, an anonymous composition student. I had no friends in high places, I had economic difficulties and I afforded sacrifices to get my Diploma in Composition and the concert ticket, I paid it! But at the moment I had the autograph of one the most valuable violinists in the world: it was you master Ughi.

How could you do this to me? How could you spit on me so much venom, just on the Christmas’ Eve Day? Do you feel offended? By what? How could music offend anyone, if it is written and played with life and soul? According to you, I wouldn’t deserve to be admitted to conservatoire? I actually spent my best years in there, preparing my self to become a contemporary music composer, with care, dedication and passion. I took a Piano Diploma with 10/10. I took a Diploma in composition with full marks. I published my sheets. I graduated in Philosophy with honours and published my works. Classical music world is sick. You are one of the few people could live it as main characters, but maybe you can’t imagine what to study years by years a musical instrument only to teach in a private school really means.

So, there are few people sharing musical power, a caste, tied up to commit their art idea and their existence. It’s a power lobby made of protectors and protected, hidden in the rooms of quite unreachable buildings. From the caste, always the same warning comes out: “People are ignorant, we are the very culture holders”. But just in the conservatoire, analyzing all the great musicians of the past scores, and comforted by Hegel’s Phenomenology thought, I convinced myself that each era has right to its own kind of music. Why forcing our days audience to refer only to masterpieces conceived in the last centuries, and, this way losing the opportunity to create a new music, our days true expression, to be a strict evolution of the European classical tradition? The so-called “contemporary music”, atonal and twelve-tone, is not this way anymore, because expression of the tearing grief shaking Europe ages ago. So that’s my visionary project: it is necessary a creative afford at the source, rather than insisting only on musical education, laying the foundations of a new contemporary educated music, which could recover the deep contact with people. I tried to do that, with my scores and my books. It was necessary.

It took more than ten years, besides the twenty years studying, and the result, not foregone at all, is deflagrating: the audience, above all young people, rushed to my concerts, both piano solo and with symphonic orchestra ones, as if they were rock events or something, in Rome like in Milan and in Beijing or New York and Tokio.  That music speaks to people’s heart but his technical and above all rhythmical virtuosity requires great talent performers. It’s an erudite music which cannot set aside scores and refuses any contamination, both with words and with images, musical instruments and shapes not proper of classical tradition. Hundreds of young people write me that they entered the conservatoire to study an instrument or to undertake the creative life of composition, following my example. As musical aesthetics history teaches, all the different ages had ideas which had to work hard to assert themselves, then paradoxically becoming a “rule” to posterity. What’s sure is that when novelty moves forward, it always frightens. As Hegel’s lover as I am, I knew that the novelty wave would have put strain on the old system and that caste priests, together with their followers, would not being able to recognize no fatherhoods to me, would have carried out a criminal as well as ruthless “Allevi’s crucifixion”. “His popularity offends me”, “his works are ludicrous”, “he is a dwarfish”, but the heaviest statement about is: “Allevi takes advantage of people ignorance, through a clever marketing operation”. Nothing falser! My music is classical, because uses an high-level language whose mastery derives from years of academic studies. My music is new, because it has that flavour, that today’s sensitivity no past musician could imagine.

“Every morning, when the sun rises, comes a new day nobody has lived yet”, states the theologian David Maria Turoldo. “My music is not Popular, because it doesn’t provided for any singers, any electric guitars or drums and doesn’t use oral tradition, or a simplified writing as a means for spreading. There are no plots, everything is absolutely clear and pure: people spontaneously chose to follow me. There’s need to give up considering common people as ignorant. Was the audience who Mozart addressed to in the 18th century more educated than ours? Italy has never had so many music students as nowadays. If my music could somehow have hurt you, you could simply switch the channel. On the contrary, you wanted to set yourself up as an icon of a wounded, violent and blind world.

I’m not stuck-up, at most a dreamer, and my music, together with all its esthetical intuitions, never wanted to hurt anyone. Unlike you, I don’t hold any important positions, I never made a festival called with my name, I have no powers in the so-called “music world”, but nevertheless, I am accused to stand in people’s hearts, a place where other people would like to be. In light of your words, it seems paradoxical you are the President of “Uto Ughi Association for young people”. The Great Segovia stated: ”Young composer made my fortune, I made theirs”. In contrast, you have chosen the easiest way of obstructionism, from the top of your clear reputation. That autograph of yours I have always kept with loving care, after many years, has no importance to me anymore.

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