Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence on 3 April 1895. He was introduced to playing piano by his mother, and wrote his first pieces when he was nine. He studied piano with Edgardo Del Valle de Paz and then composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti.
He came to the attention of Alfredo Casella, who ensured that Castelnuovo-Tedesco's works were heard, by playing them and getting them included in the repertoire of the Societa Nazionale di Musica.
His music was inspired by literature, and by his Jewish heritage. His opera La Mandragola was first performed in 1926.
Another important contact was the guitarist Andrés Segovia, who he met in 1932. Castelnuovo-Tedesco was inspired to write nearly a hundred works for guitar, including his well-known Guitar Concerto No 1 of 1939.
In 1939 he left Italy for the USA, shortly before the start of World War II, and settled in Hollywood, writing film music for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and influencing other film composers.
He remained in the USA but kept up his ties with Italy, visiting frequently. He won the 1958 Concorso Campari for his opera The Merchant of Venice, which was first performed in 1961 at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco died in Beverly Hills, California on 16 March 1968. aged seventy-two.
A selection of M&V articles about Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Ensemble. Civil Engagement - Giuseppe Pennisi discusses operas representing intrigues which couldn't be discussed in public
Ensemble. Me and my Aunts - A Shakespeare celebration, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Wit and Effervescence - Music in the Time of Goya, by Derek Murray
CD Spotlight. Musical Rebellion - Composers displaced by the Third Reich, heard by Howard Smith. '... piano music of singular merit.'
CD Spotlight. Breezy Charm - Piano concertos by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, heard by Bill Newman. '... performances are excellent ...'
Ensemble. To the Glory of God - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Sagra Musicale Umbra, celebrating old and new continents
CD Spotlight. Musical Finesse - Songs by Gregg Kallor, recommended by Howard Smith. 'Go to the top of the class.'
Ensemble. A Sparkling Concert - Sabbath music from the Zemel Choir, enjoyed by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. Something for Everyone - An evening with the Zemel Choir, reviewed by Malcolm Miller