“Elegy for the Arctic” by Ludovico Einaudi

  • Ludovico Einaudi is an Italian pianist and composer known for his reflective classical pieces.  His albums Una Mattina and Divenire have received popular and critical acclaim.  Much of Einaudi’s work has been inspired by his time in the natural world, giving his music a very grounded feel.  
  • “Elegy for the Arctic” is a haunting composition, filled with descending scales.  Listeners have described the piece to sound like falling, echoing the descent of melting ice.  Einaudi ends the piece with empty and contemplative silence.
  • You can listen to and view the performance of this piece here.

A photo of Ludovico Einaudi’s 2016 performance of “Elegy for the Arctic” in Svalbard, Norway (from Greenpeace, 2016).

How is this related to climate?

  • In 2016, Einaudi released “Elegy for the Arctic,” a classical piano composition made for Greenpeace, a global organization founded to protect biodiversity and preserve natural environments.  Einaudi performed the piece for the first time in Svalbard, Norway on a floating platform amongst the floating ice (photo above).  The Wahlenbergbreen glacier could be seen in the background.  This glacier is one of Svalbard’s surging glaciers, which melt at rapid rates and can shift up to 50 feet or 15 meters a day.  At one point during Einaudi’s performance, chunks of ice carved off of the glacier and fell into the sea.
  • This music piece was created for a Greenpeace campaign aimed at enacting government responses to threats to the Arctic, including drilling and overfishing.  Einaudi unveiled “Elegy for the Arctic” a week before the OSPAR (OSlo and PARis) Conventions, a summit dedicated to protecting Atlantic and Arctic marine environments.  Greenpeace commissioned the composition to garner support for an initiative to protect 10% of the Arctic ocean.
  • “Elegy for the Arctic” has received praise and attention for its message.  The piece was featured in Tempo: Music for Climate Action project, a collaborative effort between scientists and musicians to inspire climate action through music.

References and additional resources