Franzetti started studying music at Buenos Aires' National Conservatory at the age of 6 and later began taking private piano lessons. He began studying music composition after moving to Mexico in 1970. He moved to the United States in 1974, graduating from The Juilliard School in New York City, where he continued his composition studies with Vincent La Selva.
Throughout his career, Franzetti has composed symphonies, concertos, operas, chamber music, and big band jazz music. His album Tango Fatal won the 2001 Latin Grammy Award for Best Tango Album. In 2003, he received two Grammy Award nominations for his album Poeta de Arrabal in the categories Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement. In addition, he conducted, arranged, and co-produced soloist Paquito D'Rivera's Grammy-winning album Portraits of Cuba. He has also arranged music for The Boston Pop Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Franzetti has composed a number of film scores, most notably 1992's The Mambo Kings with Robert Kraft. He also composed the 1986 film La Película del Rey and conducted the score for Sidney Lumet's 1990 film, Q & A.
Franzetti is a recipient of two Gold Records, among many other awards.
- Images Before Dawn: Symphonic Music of Carlos Franzetti (1995)
- Poeta de Arrabal (1997)
- Piano Concerto No. 2 / Sinfonia No. 1 (1998)
- Concierto del Plata (1998)
- Remembrances (1999)
- Obsession (1999)
- Tango Fatal (2000)
- Poeta de Arrabal (2002)
- Portraits of Cuba (1997)
- You Must Believe In Spring (2003)
- Corpus Evita (2005)
- The Jazz Kamerata (2005)
- Songs for Lovers (2006)
- Graffiti (2007)
- Film Noir (2008)
- Piano Concerto No. 1 / Symphony No. 2 "Atlantis" (2009)
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