Nino Rota would have been 100 today.
He died in 1979 but his work is well remembered 30 years on. The Italian composer was born in Milan and although he wrote operas (Il cappello di paglia di Firenze – The Florentine Straw Hat – is the most well-known), concerti, and instrumental works, it is his film music for which he is most celebrated. His collaborations with Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti, the scores for two of Franco Zeffirelli’s Shakespeare films, and for the first two films of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, has made him a legend in the film industry. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1974 for the Godfather.
The most precious collaborator I have ever had, I say it straightaway and don’t even have to hesitate, was Nino Rota.
The American Film Institute ranked Rota’s score for The Godfather #5 on their list of greatest film scores.
He wrote more than 150 scores for Italian and international productions from the 1930s until his death — an average of three scores a 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. He also maintained a long teaching career at the Liceo Musicale in Bari, Italy, where he was the director for almost 30 years.
Italian ballerina Carla Fracci received the Freedom of the City of Bari today to mark the anniversary. She was the protagonist of the ballet based on Fellini’s La Strada. Rota turned his film score into a full-length ballet which was an incredible success from its début in 1966, and has had been continually revived at Milan’s La Scala ever since.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.