Piano prodigy Eliane Rodrigues was recognized at a very young age for her unique and compelling musical abilities. She began composing at the tender age of three, performed at her first recital at age five, and was playing with orchestras by the time she was six years old. Since then, she has won awards at numerous regional and national competitions, including a win at the Van Cilburn Competition in the U.S. when she was 18 years of age, and has performed her work across the globe. Her latest release with Navona Records, REFLETS, combines her virtuosity with the complex compositions of Claude Debussy.

Today, Eliane is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to find out about Eliane’s first recital and where she finds her greatest inspiration…

What advice do you have for young musicians?

Dinu Lipatti said something I always remembered: “Without rules, no liberty.” And that is very, very true. Before you study a piece, you have to do research and make sure you know all there is to know about the piece. After you’ve done that, you can start studying the piece. While studying, it’s very important to use your imagination, even from the very beginning. Don’t just study the notes, but play with them by studying the notes in groups or different rhythms, by using a metronome — anything to make the music part of yourself.

Where and when are you at your most creative?

Well, most of the time during a performance. You’re influenced by the emotions and adrenaline of that specific moment. Your mind is completely open.

As for studying, I get the most energy early in the morning or late in the evening.

What inspires you to write and/or perform?

When I study for a performance, countless images and stories cross my mind, things that I feel through the music of the composer.

When composing myself, inspiration comes from an emotion I have at that very moment. The result is more or less a combination of everything I know of my instrument and ideas that pop up. You see, it’s as if I have an entire orchestra in my head. I hear all these different sounds and I let myself sort of get carried away.

Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?

Debussy is a very rich, complex composer. Most people have heard his name and know Claire de Lune, etc., but they’re not always familiar with his versatility. It’s a whole different world and certainly worth discovering. His music is not just dreamy and blurry. It’s so much more than that: it’s warm, it’s powerful, it’s delicate, and it’s so much more than dreamy. His repertoire is one of the big pillars in music, as is the repertoire of composers such as Mozart or Beethoven. With this album, I hope to give people a better understanding of this composer who is very close to my heart.

Tell us about your first performance / composition?

I don’t remember much about my first recital because I was very young at the time. It was a recital where I played Bach pieces and also a couple of my own compositions. The only thing I do remember is that I had just lost some teeth and my mother had told me to smile with my mouth closed so people wouldn’t give me funny looks! But when I had to sign autographs (I couldn’t write very well back then – I was five or so), I was being shown how to write my name and I was so concentrated that I forgot to close my mouth and they snapped a picture of that very moment!


What were your first musical experiences?

The first recital I mentioned before, but I don’t have a lot of memories from that. I do, however, have a good memory of my first competition a year after my first recital, when I was six. I had to play Haydn’s Concerto in D major with an orchestra.

I remember having to wait very long, and after a while either my mother or my teacher wasn’t sure anymore about when I had to play. So I decided to go up to the jury to ask them “Is it my turn now or not?” They looked at me, not knowing I was a participant, and told me to go away. Then I asked them when I had to play. They were very surprised and told me then that they didn’t know and that they would call for me.

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REFLETS is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.