Pioneer of Italian film music left catalogue of classic songs
|Cesare Andrea Bixio|
Bixio enjoyed many years of popularity during which his compositions were performed by some of Italy's finest voices, including Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa and Carlo Buti, and later became staples for Giuseppe Di Stefano and Luciano Pavarotti.
He was also a pioneer of film soundtrack music, having been invited to compose a score for the first Italian movie with sound, La Canzone dell'Amore, in 1930. As well as writing more than 1,000 songs in his career, Bixio penned the soundtracks for more than 60 films.
Bixio's father, Carlo, was an engineer from Genoa; his grandfather was General Nino Bixio, a prominent military figure in the drive for Italian Unification and one of the organisers of Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand.
Carlo, who died when Cesare was only six years old, married a Neapolitan, Anna Vilone, who wanted him to pursue a career in engineering, like his father. However, after developing an interest in music at an early age he had other ideas.
He wrote his first song, Suonno e Fantasia - Sound and Fantasy - when he was only 13 years old. He loved the variety shows that were popular in Naples and all over Italy as he was growing up and it was not long before he received the first payment for his work.
|The movie poster for Solo per Te, starring|
Beniamino Gigli and with music by Bixio
This was to bring him real wealth when he signed a lucrative contract worth some 64,000 lire - a colossal sum at the time - to compose for the French revue star Gabrè - who was actually a Calabrian called Aurelio Cimato - at the Casino de Paris.
In turn, this brought him work at the Folies Bergère music hall and with one of the darlings of French cabaret in the 1920s, Lys Gauty.
However, it was the burgeoning movie business that enabled Bixio to create the legacy of famous songs still performed today, many of which stemmed from his partnership with the Italian lyricist, Bixio Cherubini.
Watch Andrea Bocelli sing Mamma
These included Mamma, from the 1940 film of the same name starring operatic tenor Beniamino Gigli, who also sang Nanna nanna della vita - Lullaby of life - in the 1938 production Solo per Te.
|Bixio, centre, flanked by the actor Walter Chiari|
and the director Vittorio di Sica
He continued to write for the big screen until around 1960, after which soundtracks for television became part of his repertoire. His songs have featured in films even since his death such as Raging Bull, released in 1980, which included Vivere and Stornelli fiorentini, and two movies in 1990, The Freshman and Goodfellas, both of which featured Parlami d'amore Mariù.
Bixio, whose son Carlo Andrea Bixio was a music and television producer, died in Rome in 1978, aged 81.
|The historic and beautiful Teatro Bellini in Via Vincenzi|
Bellini in central Naples
Naples has a thriving theatre scene of which the world famous opera house Teatro san Carlo is just one part. In the centre or close by are many more, including the elegant and historic Teatro Bellini, situated halfway between the Dante and Museo metro stations, the Teatro delle Palme in the fashionable Chiaia district, the Teatro Diana in Vomero, the Teatro Greco-Romano and the Teatro Augusteo.
Bixio's Milan office in Galleria del Corso was a few steps away from Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a porticoed street connecting Piazza Duomo and Piazza San Babila which today is one of the city's upmarket shopping areas, particularly for clothing and accessory boutiques. Closed to traffic by day, in the evening Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is notable for its concentration of cinemas and late-night bars and remains crowded until the early hours.
(Photo of Teatro Bellini by Armando Mancini CC BY-SA 2.0)