Ennio Bolognini

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Ennio Bolognini (1893–1979) was born in Buenos Aires and was a cellist, composer and conductor.

Early life and musical training[edit]

Born into a musical family, his father was an amateur cellist and a close friend of the conductor Arturo Toscanini, who became Ennio's godfather.

Bolognini studied first with his father, and later with Jose Garcia, Casals's teacher, who was now living in Buenos Aires. When Ennio was still only fifteen he won first prize in a Spanish/American cello contest, and was awarded a fine cello made by Luigi Rovatti. While still a teen-ager Ennio had the privilege of performing "The Swan" with Saint-Saëns himself at the piano; and the Richard Strauss cello sonata, also with the composer.

Career and Life[edit]

In 1923 Bolognini emigrated to the United States. Interestingly the reason he moved to the United States was to be the sparring partner for Luis Firpo in preparation for his prize-fight with Jack Dempsey. Bolognini was not only an amazingly fine cellist, but also a champion boxer, and a licensed airplane pilot. He flew his own private plane, and was once a professional stunt flyer. He was co-founder of the American Civil Air Patrol, and trained cadets to fly B-29 bombers in World War II. He was a modern day Renaissance man, an athlete, gourmet, gambler, speaking Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Hungarian, Russian and 15 different Italian dialects.

Bolognini was well known for his fiery temper and impulsive behavior. When he was principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony (he always took his dog to rehearsals), he served as interpreter for Glazunov, who was appearing as a guest conductor. Glazounov, overcome by stage fright, came to Ennio instead of mounting the podium, and spoke with him anxiously for a few minutes, as the audience waited. Later, Bolognini was accused of trying to hog the stage, and he became angry and resigned from the Symphony.

He lived in Las Vegas from 1951 to his death in 1979, where he founded the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a wonderful guitarist, and could also play flamenco music on the cello, as if it were a guitar.[citation needed] Casals praised Bolognini as the greatest cello talent he had ever heard in his life.[citation needed] Feuermann said that Bolognini was a better cellist than Casals, Piatigorsky or himself.[citation needed]

The source of this last statement is disputed by some.[who?] Nothing in the biographies of Piatigorsky, Feuermann or Casals alludes to Bolognini, or his greatness. He left no recordings of major or recognized cello works, such as the Bach solo cello sonatas, or other major cello concertos; and his recordings are limited to short musical vignettes or his own short compositions.

He was survived by his wife, Dorothy (Barber) Bolognini, who remains in the family home in Las Vegas. She currently works with the Las Vegas Music Teachers Association who offer a scholarship competition in Bolognini's honor. [1]

He was also survived by his daughter, Francesca Bolognini, who resides in Cambria, California. She is a percussionist, drum circle facilitator, artist and holistic healer.


  • Adagio and Allegro for solo cello
  • Fiesta Baska - Lamada Montanesa for solo cello
  • Seranata de Bolonini for solo cello
  • Seranata del Eco for solo cello
  • Serenata Del Gaucho for solo cello
  • Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Purcell
  • Cello's Prayer

His Cello[edit]

Bolognini's cello is now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It is unique, in that there are 51 signatures inscribed on it, including those of Kreisler, Heifetz, Stern, Szigeti, Liberace, Jack Dempsey, Bruno Walter, Janos Starker, Eugene Ormandy, Miklós Rózsa, etc. Everywhere he went, he asked his friends to sign his cello.

External links[edit]