Italian pianist, composer, writer, entrepreneur, and conductor Francesco Libetta was born in Salento — the “heel” of Italy.
Critics have consistently given Libetta the highest accolades: «Francesco Libetta is a poet-aristocrat of the keyboard with the profile and carriage of a Renaissance prince» (M. Gurewitsch, New York Times). «He is the heir of Moritz Rosenthal, Busoni and Godowsky» (O. Bellamy, Le Monde de la Musique). F. M. Colombo wrote (in Corriere della Sera) of «a dusting of refinement [...] that we thought was lost in the archives of piano interpretation.» According to La Tribune de Genève (L. Sabbatini) it is «figure-culte » and to El nuevo País it is «an historical case of ability" (R. Poleo). P. Isotta called him a «profound musician and a pianist of culture» due to «a freedom and pianistic authority at the same time that make him without any comparison in the world » (Corriere della Sera) and «the greatest living pianist» (in Altri canti di Marte, Marsilio 2015).
Francesco Libetta's name began circulating among the piano cognoscenti after his astonishing traversal of Godowsky's fifty-three studies based on Chopin's Études; Libetta was the very first to play them all live (Milan, Florence, Naples), even in a single concert (Tokyo, Brasilia, Miami). His repertoire encompasses a broad range, Mozart and Beethoven concertos, the complete Handel and Chopin works, and major works by Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, and other composers from Renaissance to avant-garde. His recordings include all of Beethoven's piano Sonatas (first performed in Italy in 1993/94 and recorded in 2020); Godowsky’s 53 Studies on Chopin’s Studies; the complete piano Sonatas by Paisiello, Liszt’s (Transcendental Etudes and Années de pèlérinage), F. d'Avalos (who dedicated all his solo piano pieces to him.) One of Libetta’s DVDs, a recording of a recital held at the Festival de La Roque d'Anthéron (France) in 2002, created by Bruno Monsaingeon (the acclaimed documentary maker of Glenn Gould and Sviatoslav Richter) was awarded the Diapason d'Or and the CHOC de Le Monde de la Musique. Other awards of Libetta’s recordings: Raccomandé par Classique, Amadeus d’oro, 5 stelle di MUSICA.
As a composer, Libetta has received commissions from European, Japanese and American associations and festivals for orchestral, chamber and electro-acoustic compositions. He has written music for theater and film, acousmatic, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. His works include three piano concertos, symphonic pieces, electronic music, ballet, and movie scores, piano Sonatas, ballets. In 2009, his first opera L’Assedio di Otranto (about victims of a religious war in South Italy in 1480) was premiered in Otranto and Rome, then released on a CD.
Libetta’s repertoire as a conductor includes symphonic works from Mozart to Wagner and Debussy to contemporary music, operatic (Mozart’s Don Giovanni), and major Tchaikovsky ballets such as The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty.
He has published essays on musical history and aesthetics, including music by Renaissance composers, reconstructions of Madrigals, and writings on cultural and operatic life in Southern Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries.
As a soloist, he has collaborated with conductors A. Pappano, M. Andreae, M. Albrecht, G. Varga, and C. Mandeal. As a chamber musician he performed with violinists I. Haendel, A. Pritchin, M. Quarta, G. Angeleri. Libetta worked with ballet companies, choreographers, and dancers as C. Fracci, C. Di Lanno, A. Molin, Balletto del Sud, G. Galimberti, S. Ballone, and C. Fagetti; he founded his group Coreofonie. Libetta collaborated with singers A. C. Antonacci, E. Palacio, and M. Devia; actors A. Boni, M. Mirabella, S. Laurito, S. Marchini, A. Preziosi, E. Gutiérrez Caba, and numerous fellow pianists.
He founded the Nireo Association, directing several years the Miami International Piano Festival in Lecce. He also organized the Benedetti Michelangeli Memorial Concerts in Val di Rabbi. Nireo was also active as a record company, with new productions and historical and cultural projects, including the 31 CD set with all the recordings of T. Schipa. With Giorgi Manni, Libetta now manages a collection of pianos from the Clementi and Erard eras, including instruments painted by contemporary artists.
He was on the Miami Piano Festival Academy faculty at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Presently, Libetta is the director of piano master classes organized by the Paolo Grassi Foundation, in Martina Franca, and Artistic Director of the Summer Academy on Ancient Instruments held in Briosco by the American Patrons of Exceptional Artists Foundation.
Among the directors of his videos published on dvd there are: B. Monsaingeon and F. Battiato. Libetta was director of the short film Sortilège, and co-director with A. G. Onofri of the television film Il gioco delle tre muse. He has made, as director or producer, numerous concert videos, live and studio.
Libetta has been on the jury in international competitions Busoni in Bolzano, Livorno, Premio Venezia, Horowitz in Kyiv, Porrino in Cagliari, BNDES in Rio de Janeiro, Rome, etc.