Professor Spotlight on Dr. Paolo André Gualdi


Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Paolo André Gualdi holds a deep respect for nature and photography. He is from Rome, Italy.

Marina D'Souza, Photographer

At the age of five, an insatiable affinity toward pursuing music led him to watch his father play the piano. Today, the virtuoso pianist and Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Paolo André Gualdi has perfected and holds behind him a repertoire of nearly several hundreds of piano pieces. Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Dr. Gualdi has not only brought with him a rich culture, but also a harmonious outlook in music and life.

“My father was my very first teacher,” Gualdi said. “As a child, I was spying on my father while he used to play the piano; therefore I was interested. I begged him to teach me, and I was really passionate about it. I remember, the first piano piece I learned was the Sonatina in C Major, Op.36 No.3.”

Gualdi gave his first public piano performance around the age of seven, and he gave his first full recital at the age of 18, lasting for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

As an aspiring pianist, Gualdi looked up to one of his teachers in Parma, who gave him the motivation to advance his piano studies.

“My teacher in Parma was a strong performer and a successful pianist,” Gualdi said. “He was the first person to introduce me to performance. He was a great inspiration and made me really think about piano as a profession. He gave me an incredible drive.”

Eventually, teaching the piano became a natural phenomenon to Gualdi; he practiced for few hours, but, the quality of the hours spent weighed more than the quantity.

“I started teaching piano at a very early age,” Gualdi said. “I started teaching when I was only 16. I enjoyed it; I wanted some pocket money and I wanted to help my father. When I practice, I concentrate very much; if you really concentrate, you are burned out within 4 or 5 hours.”

Gualdi said that the most challenging compositions that he had ever learned were the “Petrushka” by Stravinsky, which is a Russian ballet, and “Gaspard de la nuit” by Ravel, which is a solo piece for piano; he mastered them and successfully performed them nonetheless.

“I love to play romantic and impressionistic music,” Gualdi said. “But I also love playing and listening to jazz music. [A] few of my favorite jazz musicians are Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. I’ve lived here in the south for a long time and it’s a good place to experience that kind of music.”

Assistant Professor of Art/Visual Communication Charles E. Jeffcoat praised Gualdi’s piano performance by stating that the recitals were extremely visual and he could feel and see the narrative in the music.

“It’s his third semester here at FMU and he is an incredible asset to us,” Jeffcoat said. “We’re very lucky to have him with us – in the city and in the university. Everyone loves his concerts. His style is vibrant, very natural and it’s an effervescent job. He is irreplaceable.”

As a teacher, Gualdi looks for students who have the passion to learn and progress in music. He emphasized the fact that being a musician is a privilege, and patience is required in order to excel in the field.

“It is not enough to love music,” Gualdi said. “It required hard work, commitment and passion.”

Gualdi expressed that he finds solace in nature because of its bare instinct and purity. He said that the primitive aspect of nature and the peacefulness of it allows him to achieve a sense of balance. Also, he enjoys photography.

“Living in Rome can be stressful, and people don’t even have the time to notice natural beauty,” Gualdi said. “But, for me, nature is an excuse to help me find balance in lifestyle. With nature, you just have to open your heart. I love to travel, I watch the stars, and I love sitting by the beach and fishing. I love beauty, I love art, and nature is perfect. I really like taking pictures of natural scenes and details.”

Gualdi also mentioned his flair for cooking and relishing good cuisine, which are some of his many ways of relaxing.

“I love cooking pasta and pasta sauces,” Gualdi said. “One of my favorite dishes that I love to cook is the ‘Amatriciana’ which means ‘of the town.’ Well, I first use olive oil and add onions to it, then I add bacon and bell peppers. Finally, I add the pasta and the pasta sauce. The last step is to sprinkle with some Romano cheese; it’s simply the best.”

Gualdi said that ultimately, he gives credit to his parents for supporting him while he resided in Italy. His list of people to thank, he said, was too lengthy to mention them all at once.

“My wife – she has been the most understanding person,” Gualdi said. “She stood by me and advised me through difficult times. In good and in bad, she has always been there for me by supporting me immensely.”