Nino Rota

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Nino Rota Rinaldi
Nino Rota Riccardo Bacchelli e Bruno Maderna.jpg
Nino Rota (left)
Born
Giovanni Rota Rinaldi

3 December 1911
Milan, Italy
Died10 April 1979(1979-04-10) (aged 67)
Rome, Italy
OccupationComposer
ChildrenNina Rota (daughter)
Website ninorota.com

Giovanni "Nino" Rota (Italian:  [dʒoˈvanni niːno ˈrɔːta] ; 3 December 1911 – 10 April 1979) was an Italian composer, pianist, conductor and academic who is best known for his film scores, notably for the films of Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. He also composed the music for two of Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films, and for the first two films of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy, receiving the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Godfather Part II (1974).

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

A film score is original music written specifically to accompany a film for the actors. The score forms part of the film's soundtrack, which also usually includes pre-existing music, dialogue and sound effects, and comprises a number of orchestral, instrumental, or choral pieces called cues, which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question. Scores are written by one or more composers, under the guidance of, or in collaboration with, the film's director or producer and are then usually performed by an ensemble of musicians – most often comprising an orchestra or band, instrumental soloists, and choir or vocalists – known as playback singers and recorded by a sound engineer.

Federico Fellini Italian filmmaker

Federico Fellini, was an Italian film director and screenwriter. Known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness, he is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. His films have ranked, in polls such as Cahiers du cinéma and Sight & Sound, as some of the greatest films of all time. Sight & Sound lists his 1963 film as the 10th-greatest film of all time.

Contents

During his long career, Rota was an extraordinarily prolific composer, especially of music for the cinema. He wrote more than 150 scores for Italian and international productions from the 1930s until his death in 1979—an average of three scores each year over a 46-year period, and in his most productive period from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s he wrote as many as ten scores every year, and sometimes more, with a remarkable thirteen film scores to his credit in 1954. Alongside this great body of film work, he composed ten operas, five ballets and dozens of other orchestral, choral and chamber works, the best known being his string concerto. He also composed the music for many theatre productions by Visconti, Zeffirelli and Eduardo De Filippo [1] as well as maintaining a long teaching career at the Liceo Musicale in Bari, Italy, where he was the director for almost 30 years.

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Ballet form of performance dance

Ballet is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread, highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary based on French terminology. It has been globally influential and has defined the foundational techniques used in many other dance genres and cultures. Ballet has been taught in various schools around the world, which have historically incorporated their own cultures and as a result, the art has evolved in a number of distinct ways. See glossary of ballet.

Eduardo De Filippo Italian actor, playwright, screenwriter, author and poet

Eduardo De Filippo, also known simply as Eduardo was an Italian actor, playwright, screenwriter, author and poet, best known for his Neapolitan works Filumena Marturano and Napoli Milionaria. Considered one of the most important italian artists of 20th century, Eduardo was the author of many theatrical dramas staged and directed by himself first and later awarded and played outside Italy. For his artistic merits and contribution to the culture was named senatore a vita by Italian Presidente della Repubblica Sandro Pertini.

Early career

Rota at age 12. Nino Rota 1923.jpg
Rota at age 12.

Giovanni Rota was born into a musical family in Milan. Rota was a renowned child prodigy—his first oratorio , L'infanzia di San Giovanni Battista, was written at age 11 [2] and performed in Milan and Paris as early as 1923; his three-act lyrical comedy after Hans Christian Andersen, Il Principe Porcaro, was composed when he was just 13 and published in 1926. He studied at the Milan conservatory there under Giacomo Orefice [1] and then undertook serious study of composition under Ildebrando Pizzetti and Alfredo Casella at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome, graduating in 1930. [3]

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,250,315. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists. Like most operas, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an instrumental ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias. However, opera is musical theatre, while oratorio is strictly a concert piece – though oratorios are sometimes staged as operas, and operas are sometimes presented in concert form. In an oratorio the choir often plays a central role, and there is generally little or no interaction between the characters, and no props or elaborate costumes. A particularly important difference is in the typical subject matter of the text. Opera tends to deal with history and mythology, including age-old devices of romance, deception, and murder, whereas the plot of an oratorio often deals with sacred topics, making it appropriate for performance in the church. Protestant composers took their stories from the Bible, while Catholic composers looked to the lives of saints, as well as to Biblical topics. Oratorios became extremely popular in early 17th-century Italy partly because of the success of opera and the Catholic Church's prohibition of spectacles during Lent. Oratorios became the main choice of music during that period for opera audiences.

Hans Christian Andersen Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories express themes that transcend age and nationality.

Encouraged by Arturo Toscanini, Rota moved to the United States where he lived from 1930 to 1932. He won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia, where he was taught conducting by Fritz Reiner and had Rosario Scalero as an instructor in composition. [3] Returning to Milan, he wrote a thesis on the Renaissance composer Gioseffo Zarlino. Rota earned a degree in literature from the University of Milan, graduating in 1937, and began a teaching career that led to the directorship of the Liceo Musicale in Bari, a title he held from 1950 until 1978. [3]

Arturo Toscanini Italy-born American conductor

Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his eidetic memory. He was at various times the music director of La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the New York Philharmonic. Later in his career he was appointed the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra (1937–54), and this led to his becoming a household name through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire.

Fritz Reiner Orchestra conductor

Frederick Martin "Fritz" Reiner was a prominent conductor of opera and symphonic music in the twentieth century. Hungarian born and trained, he emigrated to the United States in 1922, where he rose to prominence as a conductor with several orchestras. He reached the pinnacle of his career while music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Rosario Scalero Italian musician

Natale Rosario Scalero was an Italian violinist, music teacher and composer.

Film scores

Nino Rota wrote the score for the film The Glass Mountain in 1949. Notable was the singing of Tito Gobbi, one of the world's greatest baritones. The film won a number of awards.

<i>The Glass Mountain</i> (film) 1950 film by Edoardo Anton, Henry Cass

The Glass Mountain is a 1949 black and white British romantic film drama. It starred Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray and Valentina Cortese. The film was a popular success of its day, and was re-released in the UK in 1950 and 1953. It features acclaimed classical vocalist Tito Gobbi as himself, with the orchestra and chorus of the Venice Opera House. The theme music by Nino Rota is memorable, and was also a contemporary hit. It was mainly filmed on location in the Dolomites and at Venice's La Fenice Opera House. Co-producer Joseph Janni also co-produced another film shot in Italy, the comedy Honeymoon Deferred, in 1951.

Tito Gobbi Italian opera singer

Tito Gobbi was an Italian operatic baritone with an international reputation.

In his entry on Rota in the 1988 edition of The Concise Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Composers and Musicians, music scholar Nicolas Slonimsky described him as "brilliant" and stated that his musical style:

Nicolas Slonimsky Russian composer

Nicolas Slonimsky, born Nikolai Leonidovich Slonimskiy, was a Russian-born American conductor, author, pianist, composer and lexicographer. Best known for his writing and musical reference work, he wrote the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns and the Lexicon of Musical Invective, and edited Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians.

... demonstrates a great facility and even felicity, with occasional daring excursions into dodecaphony. However his most durable compositions are related to his music for the cinema; he composed the sound tracks of a great number of films of the Italian director Federico Fellini covering the period from 1950 to 1979. [3]

Furthermore, one of his compositional habits in particular came up for disapproving remarks: his penchant for pastiche of various past styles, which quite often turned into outright quotation of his own earlier music or even others' music. One of the most noticed examples of such incorporation is his use of the Larghetto from Dvorák's Serenade for Strings in E major as a theme for a character in Fellini's La Strada . [4]

During the 1940s, Rota composed scores for more than 32 films, including Renato Castellani's Zaza  [ it ] (1944). His association with Fellini began with Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik) (1952), followed by I vitelloni (1953) and La strada (The Road) (1954). They continued to work together for decades, and Fellini recalled:

The most precious collaborator I have ever had, I say it straightaway and don't even have to hesitate, was Nino Rota — between us, immediately, a complete, total, harmony ... He had a geometric imagination, a musical approach worthy of celestial spheres. He thus had no need to see images from my movies. When I asked him about the melodies he had in mind to comment one sequence or another, I clearly realized he was not concerned with images at all. His world was inner, inside himself, and reality had no way to enter it. [5]

The relationship between Fellini and Rota was so strong that even at Fellini's funeral Giulietta Masina, Fellini's wife, asked trumpeter Mauro Maur to play Rota's Improvviso dell'Angelo in the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome. [6]

Rota's score for Fellini's (1963) is often cited as one of the factors which makes the film cohesive. His score for Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits (1965) included a collaboration with Eugene Walter on the song, "Go Milk the Moon" (cut from the final version of the film), and they teamed again for the song "What Is a Youth?", part of Rota's score for Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet .

The American Film Institute ranked Rota's score for The Godfather #5 on their list of the greatest film scores. His score for War and Peace was also nominated for the list. In all, Rota wrote scores to more than 150 films.

Orchestral, chamber and choral music

Rota wrote numerous concerti and other orchestral works as well as piano, chamber and choral music, much of which has been recorded and released on CD. After his death from heart failure [7] in 1979, Rota's music was the subject of Hal Willner's 1981 tribute album Amarcord Nino Rota , which featured several at the time relatively unknown but now famous jazz musicians. Gus Van Sant used some of Rota's music in his 2007 film Paranoid Park and director Michael Winterbottom used several Rota selections in the 2005 film Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story . Danny Elfman frequently cites Nino Rota as a major influence (particularly on his scores for the Pee-Wee films). Director Mario Monicelli filmed a documentary Un amico magico: il maestro Nino Rota which featured interviews with Franco Zeffirelli and Riccardo Muti (a student under Rota at Bari Conservatory), and was followed by a German documentary Nino Rota - Un maestro della musica. Both explored film and concert sides of the composer.

Operas

His 1955 opera Il cappello di paglia di Firenze (The Florentine Straw Hat) is an adaptation of the play by Eugène Labiche and was presented by the Santa Fe Opera in 1977. In 2005 his opera Aladino e la lampada magica (Aladdin and the Magical Lamp), with Cosmin Ifrim in the title role, was performed in German translation at the Vienna State Opera and released on DVD. Il cappello di paglia di Firenze and Aladino e la lampada magica are regularly staged in Europe as are many symphonic and chamber titles

Written for a radio production by RAI in 1950, his short opera, I due timidi (The Two Timid Ones), was presented by the Santa Fe Opera as part of their pre-season "One-Hour Opera" program in May/June 2008.

Personal life and death

Rota had one daughter, Nina Rota, from a relationship with pianist Magda Longari. [8] He died, age 67, from a coronary thrombosis in Rome.

Quotations

Federico Fellini recalls his first chance meeting with Rota:

"Outside Cinecittà, I noticed a funny little man waiting in the wrong place for the tram. He seemed happily oblivious of everything. I felt compelled... to wait with him... I was certain that the tram would stop in its regular place and we would have to run for it, and he was equally certain it would stop where he was standing... To my surprise, the tram did stop right in front of us."

A critic conversing with Nino Rota at the age of eleven just prior to a performance of his oratorio, The Childhood of St. John the Baptist, in 1923:

Critic: "Do you like playing?"
Rota: "Whenever I can ... Is it hard to write for a newspaper?"
Critic: "It's not easy to do a good article"
Rota: "Have you come from Brussels specially to hear my oratorio?"
Critic: "I certainly have, my little friend."
Rota: "That’s really funny. I won’t be conducting it tonight. Yesterday the double bass snubbed me"

On his friendship with Igor Stravinsky:

"Stravinsky was fun; his mind struck sparks. Age was no barrier - ours became a true friendship, despite distance and meeting ever more rarely."

Nino Rota reflecting on the unhappiness of others:

"When I’m creating at the piano, I tend to feel happy; but - the eternal dilemma - how can we be happy amid the unhappiness of others? I'd do everything I could to give everyone a moment of happiness. That's what's at the heart of my music."

Federico Fellini on Nino Rota:

"He was someone who had a rare quality belonging to the world of intuition. Just like children, simple men, sensitive people, innocent people, he would suddenly say dazzling things. As soon as he arrived, stress disappeared, everything turned into a festive atmosphere; the movie entered a joyful, serene, fantastic period, a new life."

Works

Discography

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Nino Rota discography

Below is a selected discography for Nino Rota (1911–1979). He was a prolific composer; there are a great many recordings of all of his music—both popular and classical; and it would be impossible to list all of them. Indeed, there are new performances and recordings of Rota's music being made to this day.

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Luca Antonio Predieri Italian musician

Luca Antonio Predieri was an Italian composer and violinist. A member of a prominent family of musicians, Predieri was born in Bologna and was active there from 1704. In 1737 he moved to Vienna, eventually becoming Kapellmeister to the imperial Habsburg court in 1741, a post he held for ten years. In 1765 he returned to his native city where he died two years later at the age of 78. A prolific opera composer, he was also known for his sacred music and oratorios. Although his operas were largely forgotten by the end of his own lifetime and most of their scores lost, individual arias as well some of his sacred music are still performed and recorded.

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<i>Romeo and Juliet</i> (1968 film soundtrack) Album by Nino Rota

The soundtrack for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet was composed and conducted by Nino Rota. It was originally released as a vinyl record, containing nine entries, most notably the song "What Is a Youth", composed by Nino Rota, written by Eugene Walter and performed by Glen Weston. The music score won a Silver Ribbon award of the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in 1968 and was nominated for two other awards.

Amarcord Nino Rota is an album by various artists, recorded as a tribute to composer Nino Rota.

Napoli milionaria is an opera in three acts composed by Nino Rota to an Italian libretto by Eduardo De Filippo based on his 1945 play of the same name that was also made into the 1950 play Side Street Story. Conducted by Bruno Bartoletti, the opera premiered at the Teatro Caio Melisso in Spoleto on 22 June 1977 as part of the Festival dei Due Mondi.

La notte di un nevrastenico is a 1959 one-act opera by Nino Rota for Milan, to a libretto by Riccardo Bacchelli.

References

  1. 1 2 "Nino Rota Music Catalogue".Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. Nicholas Slonimsky, The Concise Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Composers and Musicians (Simon & Schuster, London, 1988, ISBN   0-671-69896-6), p. 1063
  3. 1 2 3 4 Slonimsky, p.1063
  4. AllMusic . Nino Rota - Le Molière imaginaire, ballet suite for orchestra
  5. Rota & Fellini Archived 2010-11-20 at the Wayback Machine , Cadrage, April/May 2003
  6. "fellini_funerali ITALIANO - Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri alle Terme di Diocleziano di Roma".Cite web requires |website= (help)
  7. "Nino Rota".Cite web requires |website= (help)
  8. Videtti, Giuseppe. “Amarcord Nino Rota“, La Repubblica Milano, 20 April 2014.

Further reading