Franco Battiato

Francesco "Franco" Battiato (Italian: [ˈfraŋko batˈtjaːto, - battiˈaːto]; born 23 March 1945)[1] is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter.[2] Battiato's songs contain esoteric, philosophical and religious themes.

Franco Battiato
Battiato, performing at the Festival Gaber, 2010
Background information
Birth nameFrancesco Battiato
Also known asSüphan Barzani
Born (1945-03-23) 23 March 1945
OriginIonia, Sicily, Italy
GenresBeat, new wave, experimental, musique concrète, progressive pop, electropop, pop, new-age, opera, free jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, filmmaker, painter
InstrumentsVocals, piano, guitar
Years active1967–2019
Sony Music
Associated actsAlice, Juri Camisasca, Giuni Russo, Milva
WebsiteOfficial website

He is and has been for decades one of the most popular singer-songwriters in Italy. His unique sound, song-crafting and especially his lyrics, often containing philosophical, religious, and culturally exotic references, as well as tackling or painting universal themes about the human condition earned him a unique spot on Italy's music scene, and the nickname of "Il Maestro" ("The Master" or "The Teacher"). His work includes songwriting and joint production efforts with several Italian and international musicians and pop singers, including the long-lasting professional relationship with Italian singer Alice. Together with Alice, Battiato represented Italy at the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "I treni di Tozeur".[3]


Early years and experimental period

After graduating from high school at the Liceo Scientifico "Archimede" in Acireale, and following the death of his father (truck driver and longshoreman in New York), in 1964 he moved first to Rome. Franco Battiato moved to Milan at age 22, and soon after won his first musical contract.

His single, "La Torre", was released and Battiato appeared on TV to perform the song. He scored some success with the romantic song È l'amore. After further covers of pop songs, he met the experimental musician Juri Camisasca in 1970 and collaborated with Osage Tribe, an Italian psychedelic-progressive rock band. As a solo artist, he released the science-fiction single La convenzione (The convention), one of the finest Italian progressive rock songs of the 1970s.

Starting from 1971, Battiato devoted much of his efforts to experimental electronic music, producing a series of LPs that remained almost unknown at the time, but are now eagerly sought by collectors worldwide. Starting out with electronic progressive rock with some emphasis on vocals, his music became increasingly experimental, gradually moving into the realms of musique concrète and minimalism: Foetus (1971, its cover was censored), Pollution (1972), Sulle Corde di Aries (1973), Clic (1974) and M.elle le “Gladiator” (1975).

In 1975, he moved to the Dischi Ricordi label, producing Battiato (1975), Juke Box (1976) and the experimental L'Egitto prima delle sabbie (Egypt Before the Sands, 1977), which won the Stockhausen award for contemporary music.

National success

After the Ricordi label failed to re-sign him, Battiato signed with EMI. He abandoned the prog rock experiments of the previous years and moved to a more pop-oriented style which afforded him ever increasing popularity with Italian audiences. In this period his albums were usually in collaboration with the renowned musician and violinist Giusto Pio, whose two later albums were produced by Battiato.[4]

After L'era del cinghiale bianco (The Era of the White Boar, 1979) and Patriots (1980), Battiato obtained astounding success with La voce del padrone (His Master's Voice) in 1981, which was the first Italian LP to sell more than one million copies. His commercial success was confirmed by L'arca di Noè (Noah's Ark) in 1982. Songs such as "L'era del cinghiale bianco", "Prospettiva Nevskij" ("Nevsky Prospekt"), "Centro di gravità permanente" ("Permanent Gravity Centrepoint"), "Bandiera bianca" ("White Flag"), and "Voglio vederti danzare" ("I Want To See You Dance") established Battiato in Italy. Orizzonti perduti (Lost Horizons, 1983), which Battiato himself called a kipper, was followed by the successful Mondi Lontanissimi (Faraway Worlds, 1985), which featured a solo version of the popular "I treni di Tozeur" ("The Tozeur Trains)", originally a duet with Alice performed at the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest.[5]

1988's Fisiognomica (Physiognomy) sold more than 300,000 copies and it confirmed Battiato's success. The album, considered by Battiato himself his best work for the balance between music and lyrics, contained the hit "Nomadi" ("Nomads"), originally recorded by Alice and written by his old friend Juri Camisasca, who in the meantime had retired to a Benedictin monastery. The album also included the songs "E ti vengo a cercare", which was performed by director/actor Nanni Moretti in his 1989 movie Palombella Rossa, and "Veni l'autunnu" with lyrics entirely in the Sicilian and Arabic languages. In 2013 he signed a publishing deal with Roberto Mancinelli and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.[6]

Collaboration with Manlio Sgalambro

In 1994 Battiato began to collaborate with the Sicilian philosopher Manlio Sgalambro, who was to write almost all the lyrics of his following albums. After the tentative L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire of 1995, in 1996 the duo published what is considered their best work so far, L'imboscata, containing the romantic hit "La cura" ("The care"), elected best Italian song of the year.[7] Gommalacca (1998, with an unusual stress on hard rock), Ferro battuto (2000) and Dieci stratagemmi (2004) continued on the same path, with variations mainly set by Battiato's unceasing desire for musical experimentation.

In 2003 Battiato released his first feature film, Perduto amor (Lost love), for which he also composed the soundtrack. The movie won the Silver Ribbon for the best debutant director. However, heavy criticism struck against his following movie, Musikanten, a rather experimental work about Beethoven's last four years of life. The German musician was played by the Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky. In November 2012 he accepted an offer from newly elected Sicilian regional president Rosario Crocetta to become the new Regional Minister for Tourism and Culture, announcing he will not take any compensation for the job, but was subsequently fired soon after his controversial claim that there were "troie in Parlamento" (whores within Parliament).

Battiato is vegetarian.[8]



  • Fetus (1972)
  • Pollution (1972)
  • Sulle corde di Aries (1973)
  • Clic (1974)
  • M.elle le “Gladiator” (1975)
  • Feed Back (1976, collection)
  • Battiato (1977)
  • Juke Box (1977)
  • L'Egitto prima delle sabbie (1978)
  • L'era del cinghiale bianco (1979)



  • Una vita scellerata (1990, soundtrack)
  • Come un cammello in una grondaia (1991)
  • Caffè de la Paix (1993)
  • Unprotected (1994, live)
  • L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire (1995)
  • L'imboscata (1996)
  • Gommalacca (1998)
  • Fleurs (1999)


  • Campi magnetici (2000)
  • Ferro battuto (2001)
  • Fleurs 3 (2002)
  • Last Summer Dance (2003, live)
  • Dieci stratagemmi (2004)
  • Un soffio al cuore di natura elettrica (2005, live)
  • Il vuoto (2007)
  • Fleurs 2 (2008)
  • Inneres Auge (2009)


  • Apriti sesamo (2012)
  • Del suo veloce volo - with Antony and the Johnsons (2013, live)
  • Joe Patti's Experimental Group (2014)
  • Le nostre anime (2015, collection)
  • Live in Roma - with Alice (2016, live)


  • 1965: L'amore è partito (Love's gone)
  • 1965: E piu ti amo (The more I love you...)
  • 1967: La torre / Le reazioni (The tower / The reaction)
  • 1967: Triste come me / Il mondo va così (Sad like me / The world goes like this)
  • 1968: È l'amore / Fumo di una sigaretta (It's love / Smoke of a cigarette)
  • 1969: Bella ragazza / Occhi d'or (Beautiful girl / Golden eyes)
  • 1969: Sembrava una serata come tante / Gente (It seemed it was an ordinary evening / People)
  • 1971: Vento caldo / Marciapiede (Warm wind / Pavement) - recorded 1968
  • 1971: Un falco nel cielo / Prehistoric Sound (A hawk in the sky / ...) - with Osage Tribe
  • 1972: Energia / Una cellula (Energy / A cell)
  • 1972: La convenzione / Paranoia (The convention / ...)
  • 1973: Love / Soldier - as Springfield
  • 1978: Adieu / San Marco - as Astra
  • 1979: L'era del cinghiale bianco / Luna indiana (The era of the white boar / Indian moon)
  • 1981: Bandiera bianca / Summer on a Solitary Beach (White flag / ...)
  • 1983: Chan-son egocentrique - with Alice
  • 1984: I treni di Tozeur (The trains of Tozeur) - with Alice
  • 1984: Auto-Motion - with Giusto Pio
  • 1985: No Time No Space / Il re del mondo (... / The king of the world)
  • 1985: Via Lattea / L'animale (Milky Way / The animal)
  • 1991: Povera patria (Poor homeland)
  • 1996: Strani giorni / Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Strange days / ...)
  • 1996: La cura / Días extraños (The cure / ...)
  • 1997: Di passaggio /El cuidado /Strani giorni (The other planet version) (Passing by / ... / Strange days (The other planet version))
  • 1998: Shock in my Town / Stage Door / La stagione dell'amore (live) / La cura (live) (... / .../ Lover's season (live) / The cure (live))
  • 1998: Il ballo del potere / Stage Door 2 / Emma / L'incantesimo (The Dance of Power / ... / ... / The enchantment)
  • 2001: Running Against the Grain / Sarcofagia / In trance (... / ... / Into a trance)
  • 2007: Il vuoto (The emptiness)
  • 2008: Tutto l'universo obbedisce all'amore (The entire universe obeys love)
  • 2009: Inneres Auge
  • 2012: Passacaglia
  • 2013: Del suo veloce volo (Of its rapid flight) - with Antony and the Johnsons


  • Genesi (1987)
  • Gilgamesh (1992)
  • Messa arcaica (1994)
  • Il cavaliere dell'intelletto (1994) - unreleased
  • Telesio (2011)


  • Perduto amor (2003)
  • Musikanten (2005)
  • Niente è come sembra (2007)
  • Auguri Don Gesualdo (2010)
  • Attraversando il Bardo (2014)


  • Tecnica mista su tappeto, Conversazioni autobiografiche (1992)
  • Evoluzione evoluzione evoluzione (1998)
  • Parole e canzoni (2004)
  • In fondo sono contento di aver fatto la mia conoscenza (2007)
  • Musica e spiritualità (2008)
  • Io chi sono? Dialoghi sulla musica e sullo spirito (2009)


  1. Battiato, Franco; Pulcini, Franco (1992). Tecnica mista su tappeto (in Italian). EDT.
  2. "Battiato: Dipingo come uno stonato". la Stampa. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  4. La Posta, Annino. Franco Battiato. Giunti.
  6. s.r.l., "√ Franco Battiato firma un contratto di amministrazione editoriale con Sony/Atv".
  7. La Posta, Annino (2010). Franco Battiato. Soprattutto il silenzio (in Italian). Giunti. p. 223. ISBN 9788809742536. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  8. []
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Riccardo Fogli
with "Per Lucia"
Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Al Bano & Romina Power
with "Magic Oh Magic"
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