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Classical 101

Italian-French Pianist Aldo Ciccolini Has Died at the Age of 89

Pianist Aldo Ciccolini passed away at his home in Paris on February 1st at the age of 89.  He was born in Naples in 1925 and became a French citizen in 1969. Described as "an Italian pianist with a French soul," his best-known recordings to many of us are probably his EMI releases of music of Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saens, and especially, for me, Erik Satie. Aldo Ciccolini made his concert debut at 16 in Naples playing Chopin and began teaching at the Conservatory there in 1947.  Two years later he moved to Paris.  He became a noted advocate of less-often heard composers such as Alkan, Chabrier and Satie.  During part his long career, Ciccolini taught at the Paris Conservatory where one of his students there, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, also became one of the finest interpreters of Erik Satie's music. When I was just starting out here at WOSU, our classical music library was considerably smaller than it is now, and it was great fun to see what new releases would be coming to our collection.  In the late 1980's, EMI released all of the piano music of Erik Satie on five compact discs, performed by Aldo Ciccolini, and they were a source of enjoyable musical discovery for me.  The 3 Gymnopedies and the 6 Gnossiennes are rightfully the best-known pieces for their supreme repose and relaxing nature--the ultimate "chill-out" music. I also first got to know the piano concertos of Camille Saint-Saens from Ciccolini's recordings with the Paris Orchestra and Serge Baudo conducting.  Originally released on LP in 1971, the remastered CD's were my introduction to these works.  I especially loved hearing the Second Concerto in G minor, the one that "begins like Bach and ends like Offenbach," as I've heard it described. Of course, he recorded and performed Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others, but I'll always have a special affection for a part of the French piano repertoire that I first heard from this fine pianist who left us after a long life of perfecting his art and craft.  Norman Lebrecht posted this personal tribute to Aldo Ciccolini from one of his former students on "Slipped Disc" Here is Aldo Ciccolini playing Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1 some years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lvqoqjwfv-c