Piero Piccioni

Piero Piccioni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpjɛːro pitˈtʃoːni]; December 6, 1921 – July 23, 2004) was an Italian lawyer and film score composer.

A pianist, organist, conductor, composer, he was also the prolific author of more than 300 film soundtracks. He played for the first time on radio in 1938 with his “013” Big Band, to return on air only after the liberation of Italy in 1944. “013” was the first Italian jazz band to be broadcast in Italy after the fall of Fascism.

Early life

Piero Piccioni was born in Turin, Piedmont. His mother's maiden name was Marengo, hence his pseudonym Piero Morgan, which he adopted until 1957.

When he was growing up, his father Attilio Piccioni (a prominent member of the Italian Christian Democratic Party with the post-war Italian government), would frequently take him to hear concerts at the EIAR Radio Studios in Florence. Having listened to jazz throughout his childhood (he loved the music of Art Tatum and Charlie Parker) and attending studies at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini, Piero Piccioni became a musician.

Career

Piccioni made his radio debut at 17 with his 013 Big Band in 1938, but only returned on air after the liberation of Italy in 1944. His 013 was the first Italian jazz band to be broadcast in Italy after the fall of Fascism.

He was deeply influenced in his use of jazz by 20th century classical composers and American films. Among his favourite directors were Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and John Ford, while Alex North was a film score composer he admired. He began writing songs of his own and was soon able to get some of his works published by Carisch editions.

Piero Piccioni came into contact with the movie world in Rome during the fifties, when he was a practicing lawyer securing movie rights for Italian producers such as Titanus and De Laurentiis. During that time, Michelangelo Antonioni had called Piccioni to score a documentary film directed by Luigi Polidoro, one of his apprentices. Piccioni’s first score for a feature film was Gianni Franciolini’s Il mondo le condanna (1952). He consequently changed his lawyer's "toga" for a conductor's baton. He developed close-knit working relationships with directors Francesco Rosi and Alberto Sordi, and established strong personal and professional bonds with them.

Many directors sought Piero Piccioni to score the soundtracks for their films: Francesco Rosi, Mario Monicelli, Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Comencini, Luchino Visconti, Antonio Pietrangeli, Bernardo Bertolucci, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Lina Wertmuller, Tinto Brass, Dino Risi, and others.

His film scores include Il bell'Antonio, Minnesota Clay, The 10th Victim, More Than a Miracle, The Deserter, The Light at the Edge of the World, Puppet on a Chain, Lucky Luciano, The Nun and the Devil, Story of a Cloistered Nun, Swept Away, Christ Stopped at Eboli, Fighting Back, and many Alberto Sordi comedies. He is credited with over 300 soundtracks and compositions for radio, television, ballets and orchestra. Among his favorite vocalists were female soul singer Shawn Robinson and Edinburgh born Lydia MacDonald.

Awards and legacy

Piccioni won many prestigious prizes including the David di Donatello Award for the movie Swept Away (1975), Nastro d’argento Award for the movie Salvatore Giuliano by Francesco Rosi (1963), Prix International Lumière 1991, Anna Magnani Award 1975 and Vittorio De Sica Award 1979.

His song "Traffic Boom" was featured as the song for the fictional Logjammin' movie-within-a-movie in The Big Lebowski.

The song "It's Possible" was sampled by DJ Khaled in "Jermaine's Interlude" on his Major Key album . The song was also sampled in Soulja Boy's "Whole Lotta Money".

Trivia

He was involved in the Wilma Montesi murder scandal in 1953.

Death

Piccioni died in Rome in 2004.

Selected filmography

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