Massimiliano Pitocco began as a young man studying the Bayan, graduating in 1992 at the National Conservatory. In the same year he graduated in Organ in Pescara with Prof. G. Franzoni, and in 1994 in Accordion in Bari.
He has won numerous international competitions of Bayan, including the first prize in Castelfidardo in 1986 and 1988 and the second prize at the “World Cup” organized in Switzerland in 1989.
He also plays Bandoneòn and has been studying and playing Tango and in particular the music of Astor Piazzolla. In 1998 he founded the quartet “Four for Tango”, in 2000 “TrisTango” and in 2006 the sextet “Viento de Tango”.
He holds the chair of Bayan at the Conservatory “Santa Cecilia” in Rome and holds master classes at the festival in Portsmouth and the Music Academy of Pescara.
How did you start and how the technique of your instrument has evolved? How its image in Western culture has changed?
I began studying the accordion when I was 7, starting with a piano accordion system and low standards, not least because there were still free bass. Only whwn I was 14 years old, following the advice of the Maestro Di Zio, I changed my accordion with buttons and free bass system. I was one of the few in Italy to use the basses and it was an adventure not only for me but also for the school. In a short time the way of interpreting music with accordion changed a bit ‘ for everyone, as changed the repertoire that just before the Russians made up for this type of instrument. Everything evolved, instruments, accordion and way of composing. In a short time, all construction companies in Castelfidardo is adjusted to the market that grew and began to build more and more advanced models Accordion: free bass, keys and buttons to. I grew up with Pozzoli and Fugazza music to switch to Russian music, music transcribed, and new contemporary compositions that came from various Western countries, including Italy. Today the Accordion has changed considerably its image and culture in the West, just think that all the rich repertoire not only Russian, but also French, as well as that of northern Europe, has allowed this tool to get in many concert halls and have in almost all the Conservatories or the academies of the world one or more classes. The repertoire composed in the last 20/30 years, made of solo pieces, chamber and orchestra, however, almost all made up for Bayan – buttons Accordion – and not for piano accordion, after a transcript or adaptation. The repertoire for piano accordion instead remains fairly small, because the greatest composers have approached the Bayan for its more tonal possibilities, virtuosic and polyphonic. Probably some simple composition is pure fatality playable for both models, but if we take for example a composition of relief as the sequence Berio or Et Expecto of Gubaidulina – songs that have made history and have strongly influenced the growth of this instrument – are no songs executable with the Bayan. Is easy to understand the reasons for the growth and the choice of many composers who come to the Bayan, and believe the evolution of his technique.
What does it mean play your instrument today?
Play my instrument, the Bayan, a term increasingly popular among the composers and accordionists to distinguish the button accordion from the piano accordion, it means for me to play any type of music and then express myself in different facets.
The Bayan gives me great satisfaction, because it allows me to relate with the greatest composers and their music compose without any limit, and most importantly allows me to play all the fascinating repertoire of transcripts.
So my instrument, the Bayan, represents the confidence to play and venture into any project and committee work.
Tell us about your experiences in teaching.
I am dedicated to teaching very soon. I was about 18 years old and just learned the new techniques of the Russian school, thanks to Max Bonnay, F. Lips, W. Zubitsky etc. I had a great desire to convey everything to my students. I had the great fortune to perfect my work thanks to the skill of teaching, study and patience of my best students like Flammini, Chiacchiaretta, Ranieri, Di Girolamo, Scigliano, Honey, Convertino, not least Telari and many others. Themselves and others have given me the opportunity to improve teaching. I am very proud of my work and I see myself always changing.
I organize two important festivals, one in my Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, and I always invite the best performers and educators around the world to the Master, to have opportunity to exchange opinions and teaching point of wiev. I like to always improve and this ambition, which leads me to grow more and more, allowed me to reach an excellent level of experience. Today teaching, along with the study and concerts, it takes me a long time and I think that to get a class of so many excellent students need to pass on not only their own teaching and concert experience, but also a continuous stimulus and daily and, not least, a passion for music and your instrument. My students are a source of personal and professional growth and so they are always ready for contact and exchange, and last but not least I follow and address their life even after graduation! This my “being there” is very well received by my students, with which established deep and lasting human relationships: I think it’s a source of pride for me and I live with pride the fact of having “concert students”, “fellow students” of the Conservatory, “students” teachers in high schools, students winners of the most important international competitions such as Samuel Telari, winner of the International Castelfidardo 2013.
How you handle the various experiences in the field of entertainment, composition, concerts etc.? And what is the difference between the styles of music you play, such as the music of Piazzolla, the project on Bach, or the De Profundis?
Since I decided to become a “grew up” musician, I tried to enlarge my culture studying piano, organ and composition as well as the Accordion. Just to get a more expanded by what I lived. There have been periods of his career in which I have devoted almost exclusively to grow and improve in Accordion, studying with great concert and participating in major international competitions; periods in which I deeply devoted to the study Organ, following a one year course in Cremona with M. Radulescu, then with T. Kopman, L. Rogg, D. Roth, trying to deepen the philology of baroque and romantic music; periods in which I have devoted myself to study and interpret the composition of Schönberg and Donatoni, periods during which I devoted myself to the study of Bandoneòn and therefore the music of A. Piazzolla. In short, my curiosity is always great and all I have done has enriched me culturally and musically. And I try to pass it to my students. Today my work, as well as that of teacher, is Accordion and Bandoneòn concert. But the interests of the one and the other are always many, in fact with the Accordion I play in concerts contemporary and chamber music, baroque music and then there’s the concert with Bandoneòn. I feel very versatile in any of these genres.
Today the projects that I carry are a duo “Strings and Buttons” with Accordion and the well-known bass player Daniel Roccato, the “Fatum Trio” (accordion trio) with Joseph Scigliano and Angelo Miele and of course solo music ranging from contemporary to classical. A project that interests me very much and in which I am investing significant time and energy is th one about Bach. I recently recorded a CD of Bach in a philological interpretation rather when I tried to enclose the whole teaching collected over many years by the greatest organists (which I quoted above). An evolving project that I care so much. In the culture of accordionist there is a deep understanding of this music, but I think it is possible to interpret philological Bach’s music not only with the organ but also with the Accordion. Certainly my versatility also leads me to pursue other projects, such as the soundtracks and that of the Tango: after 20 years of concerts with music by Piazzolla, in the latter period I strongly dedicated to traditional tango, studying with a great Argentine tanghero, Adrian Fioramonti, who gave me all the secrets of the tango. So today my concert career spans several genres. It is certainly not easy to go from one genre to another, but I have so much behind the study and the shared experience of the great masters who have allowed me to get technical and culture fit to venture into different styles. Obviously, today my life is a continuous study and daily research. Is the sacrificed life of a musician!
This article is available also in: Italian