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Edited by the MARIO NASCIMBENE INSTITUTE In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Society. 



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Endowed with a vivid musical talent, Mario Nascimbene enrolled at the "Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory of Music in Milan, where he was a student of Ildebrando Pizzetti. After graduating incomposition and conducting, he devoted himself at first to the composition of symphonic and chamber music. In 1941 he was asked to write the musical commentary for the film L'amore canta, directed by Ferdinando Maria Poggioli. The success of the film prompted him to devote himself almost exclusively to composing soundtracks for the "seventh art." During the decade 1945-1955, his film activity grew and he established himself as one of the newest and most original Italian film musicians, also showing remarkable versatility and flexibility. Nascimbene switches, in fact, nonchalantly to composing soundtracks for films of human and social commitment, for comedies of manners, for dramatic and sentimental films, and for historical "colossals." He always demonstrates on every occasion a high degree of professionalism, accompanied at times by particularly new and original ways of conceiving the relationship between the musical commentary and the subject of the film work. Nascimbene is unanimously considered by critics to be one of the best soundtrack composers of 20th-century Italian cinema, thanks above all to the originality of the innovations he introduced in the writing of the score, including the use of non-orchestral instruments, such as the scacciapensieri and the harmonica a bocca, and of sound sources from everyday life, such as the ticking of a clock, the bell of a bicycle or the noise of typewriters he used in the soundtrack of the film Roma ore 11 (1952). Over the course of his career Mario Nascimbene would establish lasting artistic and cultural associations with such notable directors as Roberto Rossellini and Giuseppe De Santis, for whom he wrote the music, in addition to the aforementioned Roma ore 11 starring Lucia Bosé and Raf Vallone, for Giorni d'amore (1955) with Marcello Mastroianni, and Uomini e lupi (1956) with Yves Montand and Silvana Mangano, in which he used themes from Abruzzi's musical folklore, achieving great dramatic effectiveness, and Valerio Zurlini, for whom he wrote the musical commentaries for the films Estate violenta (1959) with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Eleonora Rossi Drago, La ragazza con la valigia (1961) with Claudia Cardinale, Le soldatesse (1965) with Mario Adorf and Tomas Milian, and La prima notte di quiete (1972) with Alain Delon, to name but a few. Mario Nascimbene's work also won acclaim overseas, and soon orders came from Hollywood for the soundtracks of famous films including The Barefoot Contessa (1954) directed by Joseph Leo Mankiewicz with Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart and Edmond O'Brien, of Alexander the Great (1956) by Robert Rossen with Richard Burton and Claire Bloom, of Farewell to Arms (1957) by Charles Vidor with Rock Hudson, of The Vikings (1958) by Richard Fleischer with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (1959) by King Vidor with Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida, of Barabbas (1961) by Richard Fleischer with Anthony Quinn, Vittorio Gassman and Silvana Mangano, of Il dottor Faustus (1967) directed by Neville Coghille and Richard Burton with the same actor as the lead. In the field of television, Nascimbene was the author of equally wide-ranging works, such as Franco Rossi's television script l'Eneide (1971-1972) repeatedly revived by RAI, and, before that, Roberto Rossellini's beautiful Gli atti degli Apostoli (1969), completely and beautifully set to music with only the flute by the great Severino Gazzelloni; this is just to mention two of the best-known works for the small screen. He also tried his hand at opera music with the opera Faust in Manhattan directed by Maestro Franco Ferrara and filmed at the RAI auditorium in Naples, directed by Sandro Bolchi and starring Baritone Antonio Boyer. In 1975 he was in charge of the music for Roberto Rossellini's film Il Messia. In the 1980s and 1990s his engagements as a lecturer and teacher of seminars on film music composition grew. His latest works are the soundtracks for Il vento e l'amore - Progetto Manzù, a didactic film of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome directed in 1982 by Glauco Pellegrini on the life of the famous sculptor, presented at the 50th anniversary of the Venice Film Festival, and Blue Dolphin documentary directed by Giorgio Moser in 1990. In 1991 he was awarded a special "David di Donatello" in recognition of his career. In addition to having composed the soundtracks for over 400 films, Mario Nascimbene also appeared once on the big screen as an actor, playing the part of Prof. Ferrara in the film Storia di una donna, directed in 1969 by Leonardo Bercovici. One of the fundamental elements from which Nascimbene drew for the creation of his extraordinary musical inventions, so exclusive and at the same time so musically formal, was his enormous and innate passion for cinema; a love that since he was a boy never failed for an instant and under whose continuous dynamics he came to revolutionize the techniques of recording and manipulation of sounds, until he arrived at the creation of something truly "new," coming straight out of his studio in Rome, the "Mixerama." Mario Nascimbene and his music and his way of making music: a combination, certainly, of the most extraordinary, the most incredible, where really anything can, as in a fantastic film, from one moment to the next, happen! He was an artist in the truest, most constructive sense of the word: dreaming imagining and creating. Dedicated to his memory is the "MARIO NASCIMBENE AWARD," which is given to young soundtrack composers.



The Awards

  • 1953 - Silver Ribbon for the film Rome 11 o'clock.
  • 1960 - Silver Ribbon for the film Violent Summer.
  • 1961 - Film Fair Award for The Girl with the Suitcase.
  • 1968 - Silver Ribbon for the film Pronto...there's a Giuliana for you.
  • 1979 - Italian Cinema Encounters Award for An Outcast of the Islands.
  • 1984 - Valerio Zurlini Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 1985 - Vittorio De Sica Award for Music.
  • 1985 - European Year of Music Award for the best soundtrack 1980-1985.
  • 1988 - Vittorio De Sica Award for film music.
  • 1991 - David di Donatello Lifetime Achievement Award.





Malgrè moi, Musician (Edizioni Del Leone, Venezia, 1992)

The imprint of sound (Longo Editore, Ravenna, 2002)


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