At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Stelvio Cipriani – composer

Musician wrote some of Italy’s most famous film soundtracks


One of Stelvio Cipriani's first jobs was as piano accompanist for the singer Rita Pavone
One of Stelvio Cipriani's first jobs was as
piano accompanist for the singer Rita Pavone
Stelvio Cipriani, an award-winning composer of film scores, was born on this day in 1937 in Rome.

One of his most famous soundtracks was for the 1973 film, La polizia sta a guardare (also released as The Great Kidnapping). The main theme was used again by Cipriani in 1977 for the film, Tentacoli, and also featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof in 2007.

Although Cipriani did not come from a musical background, he was fascinated with the organ at his church when he was a child.

His priest gave him music lessons and then Cipriani went to study piano and harmony at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome at the age of 14.



His first job was playing in a band on a cruise ship and then he became the accompanist for the popular Italian singer, Rita Pavone.

Cipriani with actress Antonella Lualdi at the Giffoni film festival in 1975
Cipriani with actress Antonella Lualdi
at the Giffoni film festival in 1975
Stelvio wrote his first movie soundtrack for the 1966 spaghetti western, The Bounty Killer. This was followed by a score for The Stranger Returns in 1967, starring Tony Anthony. He wrote for other films starring Anthony, as well as for many poliziotteschi - Italian crime films - a type of film popular in the 1970s.

Stelvio was awarded a Nastro d’Argento for Best Score for the 1970 film The Anonymous Venetian.  This is still considered one of the best and most famous Italian film soundtracks.

In an interview in 2007 Cipriani revealed that he had composed music for Pope John Paul II and was working at the time with Pope Benedict XVI.

Cipriani wrote Il Tema di Karol, a piano solo dedicated to Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, which was released on CD in 2013.

The composer will celebrate his 81st birthday today.

The Via della Conciliazione, looking towards the basilica of St Peter, was conceived by Mussolini
The Via della Conciliazione, looking towards the basilica
of St Peter, was conceived by Mussolini
Travel tip:

The Rome Cipriani was born into in 1937 had been radically changed by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini after he became Prime Minister in 1922. The classical city had been built between the first century BC and the fourth century AD, the Christian city between the fourth and the 18th centuries and Mussolini wanted to build la Terza Roma, the third Rome, which would be an Empire for modern times. One of the major changes ordered by him was the building of the Via della Conciliazione, the wide avenue along which today’s visitors approach Saint Peter’s Basilica from Castel Sant’Angelo. It was commissioned by Mussolini to be a symbol of reconciliation between the Holy See and the Italian state after the Lateran Treaty was signed. Roughly 500 metres long, the vast colonnaded street designed by the architect Marcello Piacentino was intended to link the Vatican to the heart of Rome. At the time it had the opposite effect as local people were upset by the many buildings and houses that had to be demolished causing residents to be displaced.

The new headquarters of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia were designed by the architect Renzo Piano
The new headquarters of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia
were designed by the architect Renzo Piano
Travel tip:

The St Cecilia Academy, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where Cipriani studied music in the 1950s, is one of the oldest musical academies in the world. It was founded in Rome by Pope Sixtus V in 1585 at the Church of Santa Maria ad Martires, better known as the Pantheon. Over the centuries, many famous composers and musicians have been members of the Academy, which lists opera singers Beniamino Gigli and Cecilia Bartoli among its alumni. Since 2005 the Academy’s headquarters have been at the Parco della Musica in Rome, which was designed by the architect Renzo Piano.

More reading:

The composer who created the sounds of The Godfather

The brilliant film music of Ennio Morricone 

Rita Pavone - the precocious star who conquered America

Also on this day:

1561: The birth of Jacopo Peri, composer of the first opera

1799: The poet and revolutionary Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel is hanged

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