"Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco - Composed his first pieces of music when he was just nine years old..."

Born in 1895 in Florence, Italy Mario became one of the most famous and talented composers of the last century. Although he was disregarded by some of his contemporaries for his "quaint and reactionary views of music", he nevertheless went on to write not only a great quantity of music, but music of great quality. 

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Indeed, his output was quite prolific, writing in such forms as Concertos (including the popular guitar concertos); orchestral music; chamber music; piano music; vocal and choral music; ballets; operas; and of course, classical guitar music. A well-rounded composer by all accounts!

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

It was when he met the "ubiquitous" Segovia in 1932 that the repertoire for the guitar took a turn for the better. Indeed he wrote over 100 works for the guitar, some of which remain at the top of the repertoire of the concert platforms today. Who could not be moved by his guitar concertos or the Homage to Boccherini?

By the time he was twenty-three in 1918 he had studied in both Florence and Bologna. He had also  graduated from the conservatories with a growing excellent reputation. He started mixing in the highest musical circles and was very successful. In 1925,  he won an award for his opera La Mandragola, which was performed for the first time in Venice.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco continued composing, including works for the guitar, until 1939 when the "ill-wind of fascism began to blow in Italy". Being of Spanish/Jewish heritage the family fled to America where they could carry on their musical life in a normal fashion, without the intrusion of the idiotic and ultimately doomed fascist regime.

The weird fact was that his family had come to Italy from Spain in the 15th century because of the persecution of Jews there. So they fled to America, the "land of dreams" where he did indeed make his mark! It wasn't long before he landed a job with M.G.M. studios writing film scores and other incidental music for film. (In fact, he wrote music for over 200 films in his lifetime).

This kept him in a sound financial position for many years. Later on he realized he was more akin to being the freelance writer, which he later became. He continued to teach music and had many students who became famous in their own right. Names like John Williams (Composer and conductor), Henry Mancini, Andre Previn and Jerry Goldsmith all came under the tutelage and influence of Castelnuovo-Tedesco, whom they all admired and respected a great deal.

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He died in his adopted country California on the 16th of April 1968. No doubt many guitarists mourned the passing of this great, gentle, generous human being the world over. A man who gave so much to the world of guitar and music.

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