I didn’t know the notes, but I played a little waltz. My first teacher listened to it and concluded: “Play it again with your fingers bended”. It was my first lesson.

I have always composed music, but my harmonic code was different from that learned at school: the family of C, F, G, with its parents, cousins, grandparents, uncles. My harmonic family was very large, it had, so to speak, an exponential growth. When at fourteen I began studying harmony, my Teacher was horrified. But the technical-stylistic analysis were a great success to me. I tried to compose a cadenza for one Beethoven concerto, it resembled Schumann. I tried again: it resembled jazz. I decided to forget it.

I loved four, five fingers, scales, sustained notes. I loved my Teacher and I was able study while upstairs my friends had having a good time. I owe a lot to the Teacher Tramma. I heard him playing Schubert, Debussy, Liszt. He always had a book on his piano, music was a medium to him for thinking and sharpening the mind. I remember him the day of my fifth year examination: he defended the program of a pupil who took as studi a too large part of the Gradus and moreover Chopin studi. It wasn’t just a suitable repertoire for a fifth piano year. From the Conservatory ground floor I heard him shouting and I didn’t know that pupil was me. I won a scholarship to the La Spezia competition with him: I played the Prokofiev’s Vision fugitives and the Mendelssohn Variations sérieuses. A year later I went to Rimini for the “Aterforum” in the context of Sagra Musicale Malatestiana and added the Fuochi Fatui and some Liszt Studi da Concerto. Adriano Cavicchi wrote on “Il Resto del Carlino”: “Maria Gabriella Mariani is a calibrated set up very young virtuoso who, if she will have gone on with her present moods and musical talent and with her brilliant virtuosity, will be able to stand out with very rare technical and musical features...”

I did never like the conservatory atmosphere. Moreover I attended two schools and it wasn’t easy to live in each of them. So I went away. Who knows, maybe even a pinch of jealousy was in me, all those students of the Teacher, all older than me…

Since fifteen to twenty-one it was the competitions age: the Taranto Speranza competition, the City of Messina competition, the City of Udine competition, the Lucca Liszt competition, the Longo competition, the Torrefranca competition, the Roma competition. It was an unforgettable, formative experience, but the music is something else. With time you become a competition beast, you play to win a prize, you win the prize, but you lose the pleasure of playing and searching for.

In the meantime I obtained a piano diploma with first-class honours and special mention degree.

At nineteen, the meeting with Aldo Ciccolini. Music becomes a cathedral to be built paying attention to the form and to the colours. The study of sound, the discovery of my own technique, or rather the knowledge of ourselves, the emotion of the former concerts with the orchestra. Once Giovanna Ferrara, after having listen to me in concert, said the author more congenial to me was Schumann. Then I didn’t consider it a compliment and I said Schumann helped me sleep.

Together with the Teacher, at the Biella International Academy, I made Schumann’s, Schubert’s, Mozart’s acquaintance. In particular, I owed something to Schumann and, in order to making me forgive the offending of some years ago, I decided to present a thesis called: Schumann: thought and imagination, later on published by the University. Not long after I obtained a diploma at the Biella Academy and I received the “Excellent” judgment. They were the Kreisleriana, the Fantasia, the Sonate, the Carnevale di Vienna, the Studi Sinfonici, the Papillons, the Pezzi fantastici years. They were fantastic years but they didn’t last long.

I was in Paris after having won the first prize at the Lucca competition dedicated to Liszt. I attended the advanced courses on the occasion of the Saint Germain en Laye Iuillet Musical and other ones at the Ecole Normale Cortot. I had a technical setting up different from that of other pianists and I remember the pianos were terribly old and too delicate.

The Fiesole experience was very useful: chamber music training has taught me to listen to the others, to play in groups, to favour the overall merging in comparison with the soloist virtuosity. The meeting with the Trio di Trieste and with Maureen Jones was very profitable in such a sense. These were the Schumann quartet, the Beethoven Trio of the spirits, the Schubert Trota, the Brahms and Mozart quartets. I played at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste a medley of Beethoven sonatas; I can’t remember the other stages, moreover in large numbers, of those years, nor the places where I played in chamber formation. I met talented musicians, especially among cello players.

Then there were quite different experiences: the show with Eugenio Bennato for Futuro Remoto, the concert for the RAI in Naples, the collaboration with De Simone on the Opera dei 116, that we carried in Italy and in Germany, the concerts with the orchestra on the occasion of the festival “I luoghi di Euterpe” and the Festival “Il Pianoforte e l’orchestra”, those for the Thalberg, the Chopin ballate at the Ghione in Rome, at the Marcello Theatre, the tours in Spain where I played Petrassi and the contemporaries, those in Belgium, and other ones in Italy.

But, at the same time, I devoted myself to something else too. For some it may… sound astray, disorganized. Maybe it’s so, but I have always combined the study of music with that of other things: at first the high school, then the University. I was making music, even when I was preparing history, and art criticism examinations, even during the Paris-Naples flight; I make music even today when I’m reading the Redondo book about time, or that of Chaitin about the search of omega.

Music is a collection of sounds that to become harmony has to smack of life, of knowledge, of human experiences, of everything we need for expressing ourselves. There was a time in my life when I needed something else, in which it seemed to me the music world was beyond this world. I studied scores, but I never read the newspaper, I knew about classical music, about classical nature and in me there was nothing topical, I didn’t knew anything of our time. At that time, I considered it a fault and decided to devote myself to the study of economics, of statistics. I concluded these studies with a dissertation on Welfare State and the Italian case. Many considered me mad, they wrote several letters in which they accused me of having throwing in the sponge. Maybe, going back, I would have avoided that, so to speak, “institutional” parenthesis, and yet I don’t renounce what it has given me: it belongs to my interests, and then, everything has to be amalgamated with the rest, has to be made something organic.

Probably there was something missing in my life, but I didn’t know what. I still had to hold on to know it; it in the meantime I taught, I played, I wrote about literature and music, I was interested in harmonic proportionality, I devoted myself to essays on D’Annunzio, on Klee, on Gaughin, to writings for the Gentile and Alinea publishing houses, and in collaboration with Salerno, Florence and Marche Polytechnic Universities.

On 2007 September the 11th I began to write, but it wasn’t about neither an article, nor an essay. That manuscript, after about two months, became a novel, called Presenze, which was published by Sovera publishing house in April 2008. After the book was finished, I continued, but it wasn’t about words: they were music inspired by that book.

These compositions now belong to a CD enclosed in the book, compositions that, in part, go back over the central moments of the novel and that are contained in a music anthology called, exactly, Presenze, recorded live by myself.

At the moment I collaborate with the magazine Terza Pagina, I wrote other two pieces for piano, I have other projects, to be published soon. In February 2009 an article about Gauguin for the online magazine Musical Words and on the Rigo Musicale will be published.

During this year I’ve presented the book with the music at Bibli in Rome, at the Edison Bookstore in Pescara, at the Book Trade Fair in Ostia, and for the Feltrinelli in Trieste and in Florence - Mattinate in musica. They have proposed to me to present them in Bologna, Ferrara, Padova, Venezia, Mestre, Torino, Bari, Ancona, Genova too. Soon I will be in Naples and Sicily.

I have been invited by “Radioclassica” in Milan and some of my compositions have been broadcast on the occasion of a live interview in which I talked about the novel and about this creative experience that finds in the plurality of their languages the more congenial to me expressive form, I think.

In such a sense I have gradually substituted a sort of show presentation with the usual presentation phrases: reciting voices reading some passages of the novel, piano voice that now stands beside the voices of the actors, with music improvised by me, now alternates with them with the performance of songs from the album Presenze.

I didn’t know the notes, but I played a little waltz... I’ve always wondered how was it possible, but I’ve never aspired to cultivate this inclination of mine.

Some “in the know” and not, have defined these compositions “genuine” music, with a strong emotional drive. Okay, that’s just what I want to communicate.

I intend to carry on with doing this, because this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and now I know it.

Maria Gabriella Marianii