15 November 1905|
Venice, Veneto, Italy
|Died||29 March 1980
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (Italian pronunciation: [anˈnuntsi̯o ˈpaolo mantoˈvaːni]) (15 November 1905 – 29 March 1980), known as Mantovani, was an Anglo-Italian conductor, composer and light orchestra-styled entertainer with a cascading strings musical signature. The book British Hit Singles & Albums states that he was "Britain's most successful album act before the Beatles...the first act to sell over one million stereo albums and [have] six albums simultaneously in the US Top 30 in 1959".
Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy, into a musical family. His father, Bismarck, served as the concertmaster of La Scala opera house's orchestra in Milan, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. The family moved to England in 1912, where young Annunzio studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham. He married Winifred Moss in 1934, and they had two children: Kenneth (born 12 July 1935) and Paula Irene (born 11 April 1939). By the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular British dance bands, both on BBC radio broadcasts and in live performances.
He was also musical director for a large number of musicals and other plays, including Noel Coward's Pacific 1860 (1946) and Vivian Ellis's musical setting of J. B. Fagan's And So to Bed (1951). After the war, he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronnie Binge, who developed the "cascading strings" effect (also known as the "Mantovani sound"). His records were regularly used for demonstration purposes in stores selling hi-fi stereo equipment, as they were produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. He became the first person to sell a million stereophonic records. In 1952, Binge ceased to arrange for Mantovani but the distinctive sound of the orchestra remained.
Mantovani recorded for Decca until the mid-1950s, and then for London Records. He recorded in excess of 50 albums on that label, many of which were Top 40 hits. His single tracks included "The Song from The Moulin Rouge", which reached Number One in the UK Singles Chart in 1953; "Cara Mia" (with him and his orchestra backing David Whitfield) in 1954; "Around the World" in 1957; and "Main Theme from Exodus (Ari's Theme)" in 1960. In the United States, between 1955 and 1972, he released more than 40 albums with 27 reaching the "Top 40", and 11 in the "Top Ten". His biggest success came with the album Film Encores, which attained Number One in 1957.
Similarly, Mantovani Plays Music From 'Exodus' and Other Great Themes made it to the Top Ten in 1961, with over one million albums sold.
In 1958, Mantovani and his family bought a holiday home in Bournemouth in Durley Chine Road, and then in 1961 acquired a new property in Burton Road (now part of Poole). He moved, finally, to a new home in Martello Road in Poole.
Mantovani starred in his own syndicated television series, Mantovani, which was produced in England and which aired in the United States in 1959. Thirty-nine episodes were filmed. Mantovani made his last recordings in the mid-1970s.
Music style and influences
The cascading strings technique developed by Binge became Mantovani's hallmark in such hits arranged by Binge as "Charmaine". Binge developed this technique to replicate the echo experienced in venues such as cathedrals and he achieved this goal through arranging skill alone.
Author Joseph Lanza describes Mantovani's string arrangements as the most "rich and mellifluous" of the emerging light music style during the early 1950s. He stated that Mantovani was a leader in the use of new studio technologies to "create sound tapestries with innumerable strings", and that "the sustained hum of Mantovani's reverberated violins produced a sonic vaporizer foreshadowing the synthesizer harmonics of space music." His style survived through an ever-changing variety of musical styles prompting Variety to call him "the biggest musical phenomenon of the twentieth century".
During his lifetime, Mantovani did not always get respect from his fellow musicians. When George Martin first suggested overdubbing Paul McCartney's recording of Yesterday with strings, McCartney's initial reaction, according to Martin, was that he didn't want it sounding like Mantovani. Martin therefore used a more classical sound, employing a string quartet.
Much of his catalogue has reappeared on CD. There are also many compilations. A large number of CDs are available containing unauthorised recordings, billed as Mantovani or Mantovani Orchestra, for example the CD titled "The Mantovani Orchestra" released in 1997 contained a track from the 1980s Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats", which would have required posthumous conducting on the part of Mantovani. There have also been CDs released under the Mantovani name of recordings made by others while Mantovani was still alive.
Following Mantovani's death in 1980, the Mantovani Estate continues to authorise numerous concerts worldwide and recordings using original and newly commissioned arrangements.
- Plays The Music of Romberg, London LL 1031, 1954
- Song Hits from Theatreland, London 125, 1955
- Plays The Immortal Classics, London LL 877, 1956
- Music from the Films, London 112
- Waltz Encores, London 119
- Film Encores, London 124, 1957
- Gems Forever, London 106, 1958
- Continental Encores, London 147, 1959.
- Film Encores, Vol. 2, London 164, 1959
- The Music of Victor Herbert and Sigmund Romberg, London 165, 1960
- The Music of Irving Berlin and Rudolf Friml, London 166, 1956
- The Breeze, London, Abbey road, 1961
- The American Scene, London 182
- Songs to Remember, London 193, 1960
- Great Theme Music (Music from "Exodus"), London 224, 1961
- Theme from "Carnival", London 3250, 1961
- Themes from Broadway, London 242
- American Waltzes, London 248
- Moon River, London 249, 1962
- Selections from "Stop the World – I Want to Get Off" and "Oliver", London 270
- Latin Rendezvous, London 295
- Manhattan, London 328, 1963
- Folk Songs Around the World, London 360
- The Incomparable Mantovani, London 392
- The Mantovani Sound, London 419, 1965
- Mantovani Olé, London 422
- Mantovani Magic, London 448, 1966
- Mantovani's golden hits, Decca 1967 SKL 4818
- Mr. Music, London 474, 1966
- Mantovani/Hollywood, London 516
- The Mantovani Touch, London 526, 1968
- Mantovani/Tango, London 532
- Mantovani ... Memories, London 542
- The Mantovani Scene, London 548, 1969
- The World of Mantovani, London 565, 1969
- Mantovani Today, London 572, 1970
- From Monty with Love, London 585–586, 1971
- Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, London XPS 610, 1972
- An Evening with Mantovani, London 902, 1973
- The Greatest Gift Is Love, London 913, 1975
- Mantovani's Hit Parade , London 1966
Light classical music
- Strauss Waltzes, London LL 685, 1953
- Strauss Waltzes, London 118 1958
- Concert Encores, London 133
- Operetta Memories, London 202
- Italia Mia, London 232, 1961
- Classical Encores, London 269
- The World's Great Love Songs, London 280
- Mantovani in Concert, London 578
Christmas and religious music
- Christmas Carols, London LL913, 1954
- Songs of Praise, London 245
- Christmas Greetings, London 338
- Christmas Carols, London PS142
- Merry Christmas to All of You, Decca 66445009 (1963)
- Gitarren der Liebe (1954)
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com – accessed March 2011
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 348. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Conductor Mantovani Dies after Long Illness" (1 April 1980) Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tokyo, Japan
- Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (2001) Schirmer, New York
- "Sailing By – The Ronald Binge Story" (Mike Carey, 2000) ISBN 0-9530603-4-9
- "Mantovani, Whose String Orchestras Sold Millions of Record Albums Dead at 74" (31 Mar 1980) The Boston Globe
- Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1964). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1
- "Annunzio Mantovani World-famous conductor was bridge to classics" (31 Mar 1980) The Globe and Mail, Toronto
- Lanza, Joseph (2004). Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-listening, and Other Moodsong. University of Michigan Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-472-08942-0.
- "Mantovano Dies at 74" (31 March 1980) Altoona Mirror, Altoona, Pennsylvania
- "Roger Taylor & Brian May Interview – Part 2". Queenonline.com. 25 March 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
- Cryer, Max. Love Me Tender: the Stories Behind the World's Favourite Songs. Exisle Publishing (Australia). ISBN 978-1-921497-02-5
- "Mantovani: Complete list of all albums, Cds and LP's". Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- Official Mantovani website (by his son, Kenneth Mantovani)
- "British Pathé Search: Mantovani - britishpathe.com". Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- IMDB Biography
- Find-A-Grave for Annunzio Paolo Mantovani