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Piero Piccioni
Piero Piccioni

Piero Piccioni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpjɛːro pitˈtʃoːni]; December 6, 1921 – July 23, 2004) was an Italian film score composer and lawyer.

A pianist, organist, conductor, composer, he was also the prolific author of more than 300 film soundtracks. He played for the first time on radio in 1938 with his “013” Big Band, to return on air only after the liberation of Italy in 1944. “013” was the first Italian jazz band to be broadcast in Italy after the fall of Fascism.

Early life

Piero Piccioni was born in Turin, Piedmont. His mother's maiden name was Marengo, hence his pseudonym Piero Morgan, which he adopted until 1957.

When he was growing up, his father Attilio Piccioni (a prominent member of the Italian Christian Democratic Party with the post-war Italian government), would frequently take him to hear concerts at the EIAR Radio Studios in Florence. Having listened to jazz throughout his childhood (he loved the music of Art Tatum and Charlie Parker) and attending studies at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini, Piero Piccioni became a musician.

Career

Piccioni made his radio debut at 17 with his 013 Big Band in 1938, but only returned on air after the liberation of Italy in 1944. His 013 was the first Italian jazz band to be broadcast in Italy after the fall of Fascism.

He was influenced in the use of jazz by 20th century classical composers and American films. Directors he liked included Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and John Ford, while Alex North was a film score composer he admired. He began writing songs of his own and was soon able to get some of his works published by Carisch editions.

Piero Piccioni came into contact with the movie world in Rome during the fifties, when he was a practicing lawyer securing movie rights for Italian producers such as Titanus and De Laurentiis. During that time, Michelangelo Antonioni had called Piccioni to score a documentary film directed by Luigi Polidoro, one of his apprentices. Piccioni's first score for a feature film was Gianni Franciolini’s Il mondo le condanna (1952). He consequently changed his lawyer's "toga" for a conductor's baton. He developed close-knit working relationships with directors Francesco Rosi and Alberto Sordi, and established strong personal and professional bonds with them.

Many directors sought Piero Piccioni to score the soundtracks for their films: Francesco Rosi, Mario Monicelli, Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Comencini, Luchino Visconti, Antonio Pietrangeli, Bernardo Bertolucci, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Lina Wertmuller, Tinto Brass, Dino Risi, and others.

His film scores include Il bell'Antonio, Contempt, The 10th Victim, More Than a Miracle, The Deserter, The Light at the Edge of the World, Puppet on a Chain, Lucky Luciano, Camille 2000, The Nun and the Devil, Swept Away, Christ Stopped at Eboli, Fighting Back, and many Alberto Sordi movies. He is credited with over 300 soundtracks and compositions for radio, television, ballets and orchestra. Among his favorite vocalists were female soul singer Shawn Robinson and Edinburgh-born Lydia MacDonald.

Awards and legacy

Piccioni won many prestigious prizes including the David di Donatello Award for the movie Swept Away (1975), Nastro d’argento Award for the movie Salvatore Giuliano by Francesco Rosi (1963), Prix International Lumière 1991, Anna Magnani Award 1975 and Vittorio De Sica Award 1979.

His song "Traffic Boom" was featured as the song for the fictional Logjammin' movie-within-a-movie in The Big Lebowski.

The song "It's Possible" was sampled by DJ Khaled in "Jermaine's Interlude" on his Major Key album.

In 1953 Piccioni was implicated in the Montesi scandal, after he was identified by journalists as being the 'blonde' who handed in clothes of Wilma Montesi after her death. The accusations were recanted by the journalist Marco Cesarini Sforza after legal pressure was applied.

His music is compiled into YouTube playlists and is extensively sampled by the lo-fi community.

Death

Piccioni died in Rome in 2004.

Selected filmography

Year Film Directed by Singles Latest CD / Digital Release
1954 The Beach Alberto Lattuada
1958 Tempest Alberto Lattuada Legend / CD 33 DLX / 2010
1959 World By Night Luigi Vanzi Camille 3000 / CAM3K-012-MDN / 2018
1960 The Employee Gianni Puccini CAM / Digital / 2022
Il bell'Antonio Mauro Bolognini Dagored / RED183 / 2008
Sweet Deceptions Alberto Lattuada Saimel Bandas Sonoras / 3998983 / 2017
From a Roman Balcony Mauro Bolognini
The Hunchback of Rome Carlo Lizzani
The Swedes Gian Luigi Polidoro CAM / Digital / 2022
1961 La Viaccia Mauro Bolognini
Duel of the Titans Sergio Corbucci
The Two Marshals Sergio Corbucci
1962 Violent Life Paolo Heusch, Brunello Rondi CAM / CSE 106 / 1993
Totò Diabolicus Steno Digitmovies / DGST027 / 2017
The Slave Sergio Corbucci
Salvatore Giuliano Francesco Rosi GDM / GDM 4209 / 2011
The Captive City Joseph Anthony
1963 Contempt (Italy/Spain version) Jean-Luc Godard
The Shortest Day Sergio Corbucci
Hands over the City Francesco Rosi GDM / GDM 4209 / 2011
The Terrorist Gianfranco De Bosio
The Girl from Parma Antonio Pietrangeli
1964 Three Nights of Love Renato Castellani, Luigi Comencini, Franco Rossi CAM / CSE 112 / 1993
1965 La fuga Paolo Spinola
The Moment of Truth Francesco Rosi
The Three Faces Michelangelo Antonioni, Mauro Bolognini, Franco Indovina
The 10th Victim Elio Petri Easy Tempo / 1998
Minnesota Clay Sergio Corbucci
Agent 077: From the Orient with Fury Sergio Grieco
I Knew Her Well Antonio Pietrangeli Beat Records / BCM 9521 / 2013
1966 Fumo di Londra Alberto Sordi Avanz / 1999
Pardon, Are You For or Against? Alberto Sordi Digitmovies / CDDM287 / 2017
1967 The Witches Luchino Visconti, Mauro Bolognini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Franco Rossi, Vittorio De Sica Digitmovies / CDDM296 / 2018
The Stranger Luchino Visconti Verita Note / VQCD-10063 / 2008
More Than a Miracle Francesco Rosi Film Score Monthly / FSM Vol. 14 No. 7 / 2011
An Italian in America Alberto Sordi
1968 Ballad of a Bounty Hunter Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent
OSS 117 - Double Agent Jean-Pierre Desagnat, Renzo Cerrato, André Hunebelle
If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death Gianfranco Parolini Verita Note / VQCD-10056 / 2007
Bora Bora Ugo Liberatore Cinevox / CD OST-PK 022 / 2016
Be Sick... It's Free Luigi Zampa Beat Records / BCM 9567 / 2015
1969 Kenner (film) Steve Sekely Film Score Monthly / FSM Vol. 14 No. 7 / 2011
Camille 2000 Radley Metzger Easy Tempo / ET 905 CD /1998
Help Me, My Love Alberto Sordi GDM / CD CLUB 7048 / 2007
Oh, Grandmother's Dead Mario Monicelli CAM / Digital / 2022
Love Me, Love My Wife Enzo Battaglia CAM / Digital / 2022
Check to the Queen Pasquale Festa Campanile Cinevox / CDOST-PK 040 / 2020
The Others Alessandro Fallay Beat Records / BCM 9523 / 2013
Il Prof. Dott. Guido Tersilli, primario della clinica Villa Celeste, convenzionata con le mutue Luciano Salce GDM / GDM 2042 / 2004
1970 The Syndicate: A Death in the Family Piero Zuffi Quartet Records / QR472 / 2021
The President of Borgorosso Football Club Luigi Filippo D'Amico
So Long Gulliver Carlo Tuzii Saimel Bandas Sonoras / 3996810 / 2005
The Deserter Burt Kennedy
Le coppie (Man and Wife) Mario Monicelli, Alberto Sordi, Vittorio De Sica
1971 Marta José Antonio Nieves Conde
Devil's Ransom Piero Sciumè Saimel Bandas Sonoras / 3996810 / 2005
The Light at the Edge of the World Kevin Billington Quartet Records / QR176 / 2014
Puppet on a Chain Geoffrey Reeve Silva Screen / SILCD1519 / 2017
A Girl in Australia Luigi Zampa GDM / CD CLUB 7024 / 2004
Seven Murders for Scotland Yard José Luis Madrid Beat Records / CDCR 29 / 1996
1972 The Seduction of Mimi Lina Wertmüller Cinevox / CD MDF 628 / 2008
The Mattei Affair Francesco Rosi GDM / GDM 4209 / 2011
Watch Out Gringo! Sabata Will Return Alfonso Balcázar, Pedro L. Ramirez
The Scientific Cardplayer Luigi Comencini
The Monk Ado Kyrou
1973 The Nun and the Devil Domenico Paolella Digitmovies / CDDM015 / 2004
The Lonely Woman Francisco Rovira Beleta Saimel Bandas Sonoras / 3995510 / 2004
My Brother Anastasia Steno GDM / CD CLUB 7091 / 2010
Lucky Luciano Francesco Rosi Epic ECPB-274: Underground Sketches
A Way Of Being A Woman Pier Ludovico Pavoni Saimel Bandas Sonoras / 3995510 / 2004
Story of a Cloistered Nun Fernando Cerchio Digitmovies / CDDM015 / 2004
1974 God Under the Skin Carlo Alberto Pinelli, Folco Quilici Quartet Records / QR471 / 2021
All Screwed Up Lina Wertmüller Traffic Boom Beat Records / CDCR 113 / 2011
Appassionata Gianluigi Calderone Cinevox MDF 051: Strano Mercoledi' 2 / La Chatte Quartet Records / QRSCE028 / 2011
Kidnap Giovanni Fago
The Kiss Mario Lanfranchi
Swept Away Lina Wertmüller Beat Records / DDJ016 / 2012
1976 Illustrious Corpses Francesco Rosi GDM / CD CLUB 7013 / 2002
1977 This Is the Night Carlo Di Carlo CAM / Digital / 2022
1978 Professor Kranz tedesco di Germania Luciano Salce Beat Records / DDJ010 / 2011
The Witness (1978 film) Jean-Pierre Mocky Music Box Records / MBR-052 / 2014
1979 Christ Stopped at Eboli Francesco Rosi CAM AMP 221: Cristo Si E' Fermato A Eboli (3:06) / Cristo Si E' Fermato A Eboli (2:33)
Upcoming… Marsch! Luciano Salce CAM / Digital Only / 2022
1980 Catherine and I Luciano Salce CAM / Digital Only / 2022
1982 Fighting Back Lewis Teague Quartet Records / QR230 / 2016
I Know That You Know That I Know Alberto Sordi GDM / CD CLUB 7075 / 2009
1985 I Am an ESP Sergio Corbucci Digitmovies / CDDM288 / 2018
1987 Chronicle of a Death Foretold Francesco Rosi Virgin / CDV 2441 / 1987
A Taxi Driver in New York Alberto Sordi Digitmovies / CDDM278 / 2016
1990 L'avaro Tonino Cervi
1992 Acquitted for Having Committed the Deed Alberto Sordi