How Ludovico Einaudi became the soothing, low-key soundtrack to our generation’s lives
He is the Kygo of classical music
Ludwig van Beethoven: 429,179 followers on Spotify. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 489,046 followers on Spotify. Ludovico Einaudi: 549,020 followers on Spotify. Quietly, in a low key, undercover way, like the Kygo of classical music, Ludovico Einaudi has become the most streamed classical musician in the world.
It can be tough to admit you listen to music that can be enjoyed outside the warehouse – pingers – Soundcloud matrix we embed ourselves in, but for an entire generation who don’t like or enjoy much classical music, Ludovico Einaudi has become a dependable, soothing soundtrack to life.
Will Seymour is a 25-year-old futurologist who lives and works in London. He’s hooked. “I came to Lud (as I’ve just nicknamed him) through TV. For me, it was This Is England, and the bits where it goes all silent, the camera starts moving, and Lud’s simple piano lilts slam another domestic tragedy into your face with the loving force of a tidal wave.
“Listening to Lud, your life takes on greater meaning. Your daily commute seems more important than running from Marathon to Athens. Choosing to take the stairs feels like peaking Mount Olympus. Breaking through the white of a Sunday morning poached egg is a greater victory than breaking the gates of Troy.
“But my favourite thing about Lud is that he doesn’t make songs. He makes leitmotifs that arc over life and stampede through genre. Mere mortal artists collect their thoughts into albums. Lud takes album after album just to finish his sentence.”
I want to tell you that Will Seymour is being hyperbolic, that his love of Lud is over the top, unique, a little bit much. But it’s not. Other fans of Einaudi include Nicki Minaj, Ricky Gervais and Iggy Pop, as well as Stoke City forward Jonathan Walters, who listens to Lud before big matches to help him get in the zone.
Einaudi gets people in the zone, he helps them to relax, he prepares their minds to assimilate more information. Where you might describe Kygo’s sound as thigh gap house, Einaudi makes dissertation classical. Andrew Wilmot, a student, explains: “Einaudi is good to study to. You wouldn’t want to hear him when you’re out drinking, but the music has got its own time and place. Studying, relaxing, cooking – it makes great background music. You don’t have to focus on it, it all blends together as one seamless, soothing thing.”
Indeed, it’s part of our collective consciousness. “It has a certain beauty and a certain, almost childish simplicity that’s quite hard to find in our complex and ever-changing world,” rhapsodises Ed Wise, a Bristol student who first encountered Einaudi at school. “It’s not classical music as such, it’s more like film music. That certainly makes it more accessible; it’s pop-classical. It’s not dumb but it is classical music for anybody.
“It doesn’t require you to appreciate the complexity of Mozart of Tchaikovsky – you’re plugged into a simple, universal kind of music. It’s anybody’s music.”
For Callum McCulloch it’s quite straightforward, Einaudi is the ultimate music to study and revise to: “So many of us have Einaudi on our Spotify work playlists. It’s classical music for a generation who don’t know much about classical music. I don’t play the piano but if I did, I would love to play Einaudi. I can imagine myself sitting there, nailing it, and all the girls saying: ‘yeah, he’s cool.’
“Listening to Einaudi is like having your ears caressed by the wings of an angel.”