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Carlo Martelli is an English composer of classical music. He was born in London on 12 December 1935 (his father — born in 1887 — came to England in 1907 from northern Italy to seek work as a waiter). Martelli was brought up in Richmond, and became one of the most admired young composers in the United Kingdom while still in his teens.
As a young composer, Martelli had probably the greatest success of all those of his generation (which includes Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and Richard Rodney Bennett). For example, his symphony (written when he was 19) was performed by the LSO under Norman Del Mar at the Royal Festival Hall, and was then broadcast by the BBC several times in performances by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The change in Martelli's fortunes came in the early 1960s. Policy changes at the BBC's 'Third Programme' resulted in his music, melodious and tonal as it was, being sidelined in favour of serial and avant-garde experimentation, and Martelli rapidly vanished from the schedules. In addition, he had taken on a tremendous workload as a film composer — to which burden was added the further strain of working as an uncredited assistant and 'ghost writer' for several other film composers. Martelli sometimes found himself working on two or three films at the same time. The most serious blow of all came in the early 1970s, when council workers unexpectedly emptied his storage space and mistakenly burnt all of his manuscripts.
After this disaster (which resulted in the only extant works being those that were already in print by the late 1950s) Martelli gave up composing for many years, and made a living as a freelance viola player. He was often seen playing in a string quartet which entertained diners at the original Pizza Express restaurant in London's Soho. He also worked producing commercial arrangements of popular and classical pieces for quartet.
Several of his works have recently been recorded, including his Symphony, Op.4 two early String Quartets, and some of his lighter pieces. In recent years, Martelli has begun to compose again.
- Tonnage Oxygen (1963) (short)
- Witchcraft (1964)
- Do You Know This Voice? (1964)
- The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)
- Catacombs (1965)
- The Murder Game (1965)
- Who Killed the Cat? (1966)
- Prehistoric Women (1967)
- It! (1967)
Film work uncredited
- The Ceremony
- Dr Syn
- Attack on the Iron Coast
- Lost Continent
- The Bedford Incident