He began by playing “by ear on my brother’s toy keyboard” and started formal piano lessons at age 10, recalls Italian pianist Giuseppe Greco, 23.
And studying piano was “my idea”—not anyone else’s.
Greco’s home is the southern Italian town of Oppido Lucano, just above the arch of the Italian boot (about midway between Naples and Bari). He has a Facebook page that lists music “likes”: Beethoven, Gregorian chant, an Italian evangelical movie called Il Credo. And it’s not every guy who posts quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas on Facebook. We ask him what his deep religious faith gives to him as a performer of music—and he answers with another quote, this time from St. Augustine: “Who sings, prays twice.”
He is a recent graduate of Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for piano and chamber music. He was the first-prize winner of the 2009 Arcangelo Speranza International Piano Competition in Italy. In 2011 Greco received a medal from the president of Italy, and was awarded the Yamaha scholarship offered to the top Italian pianist by the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe. He has performed at the Tuscia Operafestival with the Viterbo Orchestra, and at major venues throughout Italy.
Greco says favorite composers include “Beethoven and Brahms, because I love the power of their music and their strong personalities.” He remembers playing “Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto at my first piano concert with an orchestra. I was 14.”
He enjoys photography, and has a girlfriend who is “a great soprano!” He loves to listen to opera (did that come before or after the soprano, we wonder?), especially “Italian opera composers—Verdi, Puccini and many others”—and he particularly admires Pavarotti, Anna Netrebko and Leo Nucci.
And, he adds, “I am also a composer.” Listen carefully to both his piano playing and his own compositions, he says, “and you will understand my personality.”
This is his first time in Texas, where he hopes to see all “the good things” he’s heard about. But that’s for later. Right now, he says, “I want to focus on the competition—that is the most important thing!”
◊ Here is a video of Giuseppe Greco performing the Chopin “Heroic” Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53 in 2011:
Giuseppe Greco's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire:
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
BEETHOVEN Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, op. 31, no. 3
LISZT Ballade No. 2 in B Minor
DEBUSSY L'Isle joyeuse
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
CHOPIN Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, op. 61
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, op. 84
SCARLATTI Sonata in D Minor, K. 1
SCARLATTI Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 551
SCHUMANN Fantasiestücke, op. 12
LISZT Fantasy and Fugue on the Name B-A-C-H
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, op. 44
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, op. 15
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.