Giovanni Doria Miglietta has performed as soloist with the Orchestra da Camera Milano Classica, the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, the European Youth Chamber Orchestra, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra ‘900 Teatro Regio di Torino and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Donetsk. He was the first pianist to record the complete transcriptions of American pianist Earl Wild, for Brilliant Classics, which received rave reviews from music magazines like Fanfare and Gramophone.
At the Accademia di Musica, Giovanni Doria Miglietta teaches pre-academic and advanced courses in piano, as well as holding masterclasses during the Musica d'Estate summer campus. As part of our section A Career in Music, we interviewed him to ask what advice he would give to our students, who are set to become the future generation of music professionals.
What were the key experiences that marked your development and training as a musician? At what time of your life did they take place? Why were they significant?
I can think of many key esperiences. I was lucky to start learning piano when I was three years old because my father is a musician, polystrumentalist. At the time I used to hear him giving lessons in piano and guitar. He was an excellent teacher because he let me play what I liked on the piano and he made studying music seem like an exciting game, and so, even as a very young child, this made me realise what I wanted to do with my life. I remember that in primary school I would pretend to be sick so that I could stay home and play music with my father. Later on, a whole new world opened out for me when I met Maestro Enrico Pace, with whom I studied for several years.
Can you describe one or two turning points in your career? What impact did they have on your career? Why were they important?
The turning points in my career often occurred unexpectedly, even very suddenly. For example, I remember that I won first prize at an international competition in Spain, which I had entered against the advice of my teachers because I wanted to get some experience outside Italy. A second one was when I debuted at the Sala Verdi auditorium in Milan for the Società dei Concerti foundation. These experiences were turning points because they were huge boosts to my confidence in my talent, while at the same time they spurred me on to greater efforts, since I realised that I still had a long way to go!
Often our mistakes teach us important lessons. If you could go back in time in your career what would you do differently?
If I could go back in time I would study more in my high school years. I remember that I was distracted by many things and I begrudged the time my demanding Classical High School work took away from my piano study. Those are very important years when everything you learn goes straight into your DNA. Again with hindsight, I would have tried to have real experiences of studying abroad, not simply attend master classes, but this would be simply for personal satisfaction.
Along a musician’s career path there are always many important decisions to be made and these often depend on and result from the opportunities that are offered to them. What helped you to stay focused and not to lose sight of your goals?
I think that if you want to find the path that’s right for you shouldn’t pay too much attention to what other people are doing, as this can often lead you astray. I like to quote from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” You have to try to be honest with yourself and to understand what you really love to do and what will make you happy, without allowing yourself to be influenced by family or whoever. To understand the purpose of your life and how you can leave a legacy that will be of benefit to others. I consider myself to be very lucky because I realised this when I was 10 years old.
Apart from studying with great passion and dedication, what advice would you give to young musicians who are starting out on a career in music?
I would tell them this: don’t be afraid to go out and meet challenges, work with your whole heart, don’t settle for second best, take risks. If you don’t, you’ll regret it later. Because if you don’t seek out challenges when you’re young, it’s unlikely that you will when you’re older. Don’t waste time looking at what others are doing; act on your own musical choices and decisions with confidence. Remember also that solo or chamber music concerts are not the only outlet for a musician; there are also interactions with other arts. I would also say: work on yourself, not only on your music skills but also on your weak points. These may not be related to how you play your instrument, but also to your personality, the relationship you have with yourself and with others. When you are performing in a concert it’s as if you were naked, totally exposed: what is expressed is what you really are, both the good and the bad.