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Exploring Anthony Hopkins’ Musical Prowess and Compositions

by Madonna

Sir Anthony Hopkins, celebrated for his iconic roles in films like “The Silence of the Lambs,” Marvel’s Thor franchise, and “The Two Popes,” unexpectedly unveiled another facet of his talent during the Covid-19 pandemic, charming social media audiences worldwide with his piano skills, accompanied by his purring feline companion, Niblo.

But what’s the story behind Anthony Hopkins’ musical journey? When and where did this award-winning actor learn to play the piano, what kind of music does he favor, and does he compose his own pieces?

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Hopkins’ relationship with the piano began at the age of six, though he modestly confessed, “I wasn’t very adept at it,” during a 2009 interview with Gramophone magazine. He attributed this to limited practice opportunities, resulting in an “indecisive introduction to music.” Nevertheless, his determination prevailed, and by the age of ten, he was performing works by Beethoven and Chopin. Fondly recalling those early days, he revealed to Classic FM in 2012, “I used to play Beethoven over and over to the point that my father asked me to stop.” When questioned about his choice of music, he humorously shared, “Once he asked me, ‘What are you playing?’ And when I responded ‘Beethoven,’ my father said, ‘No wonder he went deaf!'”

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Although Hopkins’ initial musical pursuits were promising, he ultimately chose acting over a deeper exploration of music during his time at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. In a poignant gesture, he later contributed to the £2.3 million refurbishment of one of the college’s buildings, now christened the Anthony Hopkins Centre. This Grade II-listed structure houses a studio theatre, music practice rooms, and a professional recording studio.

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In his portrayal of Pope Benedict XVI in “The Two Popes,” Anthony Hopkins, a skilled pianist himself, showcased his musical abilities by playing the piano in a touching lullaby for Cardinal Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis. Interestingly, Hopkins initially proposed a piece by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana instead of Mozart, which found its way into the final cut of the film. However, it later emerged that the composition was an invention of Hopkins himself.

As for his favorite classical music, Sir Anthony Hopkins has expressed a deep appreciation for various genres. In a 2012 interview with Classic FM, he revealed his love for “great Russian composers like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov,” as well as British and American composers. When asked to select one indispensable record, he chose Robert Schumann’s “The Merry Peasant,” sharing that he was “tortured by that piece” as a child, using it as a recurring piano exercise.

Being a Welshman, Hopkins also harbors a special affinity for British countryside-inspired music. He shared with Gramophone magazine, “I suppose I’m drawn to music with some sort of complexity… There is a melancholy side to me that I’ve carried from my youth in Wales.” This affection extends to the sounds of Vaughan Williams and Elgar, appreciating their melancholic and pastoral qualities.

In his Malibu home, Hopkins maintains a Bösendorfer piano, which he diligently plays daily. As he explained to The Scotsman, it keeps his mind and fingers agile. His repertoire includes Chopin studies, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” and a deep admiration for Scriabin’s compositions. Yet, he humorously admits to becoming engrossed in challenging passages and rarely completing entire pieces.

In Anthony Hopkins, the world has not only witnessed an illustrious actor but also a talented musician whose love for the piano and classical music continues to inspire and enchant audiences far beyond the silver screen.

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