The modest 18-year-old piano prodigy wowing the world

When Yoav Levanon was three years old, he was very curious about his mother’s upright piano. He touched it and fell in Love immediately, he stated.

He started playing… and playing… and on May 6, Levanon, now 18, he released his debut album with Warner Music, “Monument to Beethoven.”

He has won countless awards — starting at the age of five — performing on some of the most prestigious stages around the world including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland and the San Carlo Theatre in Italy.

After Levanon’s performance with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra was over, a music critic wrote that Levanon had been “on the rocks.” “is not a child prodigy. He is an eight-year-old artist of high caliber.”

He was 13 years old when he joined the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2021, he was in a film with Daniel Barenboim.

Yoav Levanon at OSR Geneva Festival Magali Dougados, photo

Levanon is a funny, energetic, humble, and passionate about music. ISRAEL21c he tells ISRAEL21c his parents are musically inclined, but no one in his family is a professional musician.

He was able to recall. “pressing some stuff”Playing the piano. His mother, who was a pianist as a hobby, showed him how to play. “a bit of what to do.”He “thought it was so cool,”He began to study piano. He won his first competition two years later.

“I never get nervous at competitions because I think I have to win,”He said. “Competitions have always been a way for me to perform for people. I just love to play. I love having fun with the audience. What I play must have meaning for me because me and the audience are one.”

What the composer wanted

Photo of Yoav Levanon © Nir Slakman

Levanon says he has had many teachers over his life. Each taught him something that was valuable. “teachers look at different music in different ways.”

“There’s not one way to play,”He said. “I play composers who aren’t alive. Art is endless.”

He stated that he had had the chance to meet with “so many different amazing pianists, and I draw inspiration from everyone.”

When he starts learning a piece of music, he incorporates music theory to grasp the piece’s structure and history.

“I try to understand what the composer wanted,”He explained that he does it so that he can do it. “make it my own.”

Levanon appears to have an effortless talent for memorizing music. On stage, there is no sheet music for him to follow; it’s all in his head.

“How do you do that?”I asked.

“I always wonder what it would be like to memorize a long speech,”He thought. “Well, a musical piece tells a story. You understand that if it goes this way, it will then go that way. It’s like when you see a movie and you understand. Like in a sonata, one time something happens and then you know it will happen a different way. It feels really natural for me to read music and then memorize it.”

Levanon was informed by Murray Perahia, an American concert pianist. “you learn a lot and then forget it as soon as you’re on stage and then you just play the piece.”

There is no stage for fright

Yoav Levanon photo © Nir Slakman

Levanon resides near Tel Aviv, Hod Hasharon. He has two older brothers as well as a younger sister. He loves his hometown, he said, because it’s “near strawberry fields.”

He attended regular school until seventh grade. He was already flying to competitions by then and the school principal suggested that he be home-schooled. He has one more math matriculation exam to pass before he receives his high school diploma.

He has three pianos at home. Of course, when he goes to perform, he has to play on a piano he’s never touched before.

“I love the challenge of a new piano,”He said. “It’s interesting. It’s actually really nice. The hall is different and the acoustics are different and I know that this piano will bring out something different in me.”

“Do you ever get stage fright?”I asked.

“Never. I just want to play more!” he said, admitting that he has the privilege of choosing what he’d like to play.

To celebrate the debut album’s release, “A Monument to Beethoven,” he’ll do some recitals and have broadcasts.

The album contains compositions by Chopin, Liszt, Chopin and Mendelssohn, who helped build the famous monument to Beethoven in Bonn, Germany, in 1845, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Like pizza and ice-cream

Levanon declined the opportunity to name his favorite composers. “Each gives you something different. It’s like pizza and ice cream!”He let out an infectious laughter. “I guess it depends on your mood.”

He said that he enjoys playing with an orchestra. “there is something so ‘wow’ about it. Technically speaking, I’m the soloist, but we merge ideas and I get so much inspiration from the other musicians.”

Levanon would like to try conducting and composing his own music in the future but right now he’s focused on his piano playing. He stated that he wakes up early to make it to work. “get a lot done before the day starts.”

I asked him whether he liked pop music.

“I love to keep an open mind about music but classical music is still my big love because it has a lot of depth,”He said. “But I love jazz and beatbox.”

“Beatbox?”

“Yes. Give me a tune and I’ll do something for you.”

What immediately came to mind was the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Levanon took off on a beatbox riff, doing it so seamlessly that even Beethoven himself would have applauded.

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