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.
- 1976: The Prime Element
- 1977: Grafitti
- 1979: Galaxy Dust
- 1983: Prometheus
- 1984: New York Toccata
- 1991: Orquesta Nova
- 1992: Salon New York with Orquesta Nova
- 1993: Tropic of Capricorn
- 1994: Soundtracks and Jazz Tunes
- 1995: Astor Piazzolla: A Flute and Piano Tribute (with Jorge de la Vega).
- 1995: Images Before Dawn: Symphonic Music of Carlos Franzetti
- 1997: Poeta de Arrabal
- 1997: Portraits of Cuba (by Paquito D'Rivera).
- 1998: Concierto del Plata
- 1998: Piano Concerto n.º 2 / Sinfonía n.º 1
- 1999: Remembrances
- 1999: Obsession
- 2000: Tango fatal
- 2002: Poeta de Arrabal
- 2003: Reflexiones
- 2003: You Must Believe in Spring
- 2004: Prometheus
- 2005: Corpus Evita
- 2005: The Jazz Kamerata
- 2005: The Prime Element
- 2006: Songs for Lovers
- 2007: Graffiti
- 2007: Carlos Franzetti Trío Live in Buenos Aires
- 2008: Film Noir
- 2008: Galaxy Dust
- 1998: Piano Concerto n.º 1 / Sinfonía n.º 2 Atlantis
- 2008: Duets (with Eddie Gómez).
- 2009: Mambo Tango
- 2010: New York Meeting (with Gato Barbieri, David Finck, Néstor Astarita ).
- 2011: Alborada
- 2012: Masters of Bandoneón / tema Stringazo
- 2012: Pierrot et Colombine
- 2014: In the Key of Tango
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