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A series of conversations with the Cliburn competitors
(Pronounced LU-ca Bur-RAH-toe)
Where he lives now: Milan
Almost a cellist: When Buratto's parents asked him what instrument he wanted to play, the then 4-year-old Buratto said, "I want to play piano." His father, who also played when he was young, bought a new piano for the family. Years later, his parents told him that he was originally supposed to play cello. "So it was almost by chance that l became interested in piano," he says.
What he listens to: Schumann is Buratto's favorite composer, but right now, he's into listening to Richard Strauss' tone poems on his iPod. The contemporary pianist he admires the most, he says, is Mikhail Pletnev (founder and artistic director of the Russian National Orchestra, who won the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition when he was 21 years old).
Why he's entering the Cliburn: "Since I was a young student, I've always heard about the Van Cliburn competition," he says in his application. "... I've always dreamed to be part of this big family, and wished, one day, to take part in this Olympic games for pianists, not just for the great visibility it gives, and the great chance for career it is, but also for feeling this magic experience."
Cliburn hopes: "To play relaxed and have fun during performances."
When he is not practicing piano, he is: A soccer supporter, tennis fan ("[Novak ] Djokovic rules!!!"), reader (his favorite book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov), and, "I like going to the movies," he says. His favorite film is The King's Speech, and the movie star he'd most like to meet is Scarlett Johansson . He also likes MasterChef and The Simpsons on TV.
Buon appetito! Buratto's favorite foods are spaghetti amatriciana and "mama's tiramisu," he says.
The first really Texan thing he plans on doing upon arriving in Fort Worth: "Going to rodeo."
If he could travel back in time, he'd like to meet ... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
And ask ... "How he could write so much and the best ever music in only 35 years and also travel a lot, have lot of fun and have six children."
What he, as an Italian, brings to the music: "I use the score as the starting point of each musical choice, considering it as a bible," he says. "Respecting the will of the composer and what he wrote. Of course as an Italian, l really take care of sound as much as possible, focusing on the sense of phrasing that comes from Italian 'bel canto.' And of course, having fun!"
What misconceptions do people have about classical music? "I think today people still consider classical music as far as possible from our life. We have to try to get closer to the people, trying to offer a new vision of music, more simple and more understandable," he says. "For example, my neighbor shot through the window with a scare-gun because of the very bad 'noise' of my playing, so I used to play with headphones. But in Milan, we also try to renew music with little jest, with nontraditional recital for families and kids, in places as far as possible from a classical theater. I think classical music should knock herself off her pedestal."
-- Robert Philpot