“Audiences lucky enough to hear him play will remember the music and its recreation long after the
artist’s name has escaped them.”
Matthew Boyden, musicologist, author, barrister
A former child prodigy in his hometown of Melbourne, Angelo Villani was heading for a promising career as he entered the world’s hardest piano competition – the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition. Like many aspiring young talents, his hopes were dashed by a muscular injury, which has prevented Villani from playing in public for nearly 20 years. In October, Villani made a thrilling comeback concert at St James’ Piccadilly, in which he gave a masterful performance of Liszt’s tumultuous Dante Sonata.
Angelo Villani - biography
Born in Australia to Italian parents, Angelo Villani attended Melbourne’s school for musically- gifted children, the Victorian College of the Arts, where his teachers included Alexander Semetsky, a pupil of Emil Gilels, and Stephen McIntyre, a student of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. A flourishing career as a teenager included performances of the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov 2nd Concerto with Melbourne Symphony, acclaimed for their dramatic intensity, vision and musical conviction.
Following further recitals and appearances on ABC Television, Angelo Villani won considerable respect and esteem and a promising career seemed forthcoming. Following recommendations by Leslie Howard and Joyce Greer de Holesch to take part in the Moscow Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, the 23-year-old pianist was accepted for the 9th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990.
The young Australian pianist arrived in Moscow a week earlier to prepare himself for the Herculean contest. Shortly before the first round, Villani withdraw owing to a trapped nerve. A potentially important career came to an abrupt halt, whilst Villani travelled internationally seeking effective treatment.
Since settling in London in 1991, Villani has performed sporadically in mostly private gatherings such as the Liszt Society annual meeting performing alongside Kenneth Hamilton and at the Royal Overseas League. He has channeled his extensive knowledge of piano repertoire and recording history in new ways. He gives masterclasses to professional musicians, has written for specialist publications and worked for 7 years in Tower Records, providing expert advice on recordings to customers. When specialist music shops disappeared from the high streets, Villani took up employment as piano teacher at Rosary Primary School (Belsize Park) and Kentish Town Church of England Primary.
Since 2010, tangible improvements have emerged which has allowed Angelo Villani to make a full return to the keyboard and over the past couple of years he has given several private concerts across the UK. 2012 marked a return to form culminating in his official London recital debut.
“Villani’s performances always reveal a profound artistry which one comes across rather rarely - one that is reminiscent of the great pianists of yesteryear. He communicates a true poetic sensitivity and imagination. One moment a melody will sing and seem to float in mid-air, the next, a volatile, volcanic outburst. Villani plays his music as if he owns it, leaving nothing in the dressing room; he will tell you a story which is quite special.”
Concert pianist Clemens Leske
“Sadly we live in a world where every 6 months or so we are asked to believe that there is a new international pianistic sensation on the block, and of course, rather predictably, this almost never turns out to be anything more than typical journalistic hyperbole. Encountering a really distinctive, idiosyncratic ‘new voice’ is perhaps rarer than ever. Such a genuine article, appearing as if out of the blue - mercifully without the depressingly standardised credentials - is Angelo Villani who, in spite of his absence from the stage, sounds like a seasoned artist - someone with the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to truly command attention.”
Concert pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar
“Angelo Villani is an artist with original, creative and compelling
Concert pianist Nikolai Demidenko
“Angelo plays with stunning conviction and intensity”
Concert pianist Benjamin Grosvenor
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