Thirty-One Days of Italians
Contributing to America - Music
Thirty-One Days of Italians
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MUSIC

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) Recognized by many as the world’s most acclaimed tenor, Caruso’s recordings launched the phonograph industry in the early 1900s and prompted other singers to start recording their music for sale. His vocal range and versatility is still unmatched and it’s noted that his recordings have been researched and studied more than any other singer. His recording of "No Pagliaccio non son" was the first record to sell one million copies, and more than a century later, his records continue to sell. Caruso first sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1903 and continued his association with the Met for 18 seasons. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 for his significant artistic contributions to the recording industry.

The Enrico Caruso Museum of America

The Enrico Caruso Page

Enrico Caruso and the 1906 [San Francisco] Earthquake

The Voice of Caruso

Caruso Records: A History and Discography

1940s Newsreel of Caruso's Funeral (YouTube)

 

Mario Lanza (1921-1959) Cited by tenors today as their inspiration, as a child, Lanza listened to and studied Enrico Caruso, singing along with Caruso’s recordings. At 21, Lanza sang in his first opera. After World War II, he toured as tenor in the Bel Canto Trio and his performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947 led him to a contract with MGM. He continued with his singing – performing in several operas and recording several albums –while making films. His first film was an instant success and in 1951, he had the starring role in The Great Caruso. His soundtrack recording of The Student Prince in 1954 was the first million-seller soundtrack album.

Since 1961, the mayor of Philadelphia has proclaimed October 7th (the day of Lanza’s death) as Mario Lanza Day. In 1962, the Mario Lanza Institute Scholarship Program was founded to fulfill one of Lanza’s dreams of a scholarship program, and 200 scholarships have been awarded since its inception. Each year, the award ceremony concludes at the Mario Lanza Ball.

Mario Lanza Institute & Museum 

Lanza Legend

Mario Lanza

Official Italian Web Site (also in English)

 

Henry Mancini (1924-1994) With 20 Grammy Awards and 4 Oscars, no other musician has matched Mancini’s musical achievements. For 40 years he arranged, composed, conducted, and performed music for movies including Arabesque, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Moon River, The Pink Panther, The Silver Streak, Victor/Victoria, and Wait Until Dark, among many others. His scores for television include Peter Gunn, Newhart, The Thorn Birds, Remington Steel, and NBC News Election Night Coverage.

At a young age, Manicini learned to play the piccolo, flute, and piano. After World War II, he played piano with the Glenn Miller Band and, in 1947, he joined Universal-International Films in California. As a house arranger, he worked on close to 100 movies before striking out on his own. His score for Peter Gunn was the first television soundtrack to become Billboard’s #1 for 10 weeks and it remained on the list for two years. Among his many other awards and honors, in 2004 a United States postage stamp was issued in tribute to a music legend.

Henry Mancini Official Web Site (Flash Player 8 Required)

A Henry Mancini Discography

Brief Biography and Recordings

 

Dean Martin (1917-1995) One of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, Dean Martin performed on stage, radio, television, and in movies. His career spanned almost 60 years, starting with singing in nightclubs in 1934, and leading to a 10-year partnership with Jerry Lewis, numerous top-selling records, more than 50 movies, sold-out Las Vegas shows, the host of his own television show for eight years, and eleven years as host of a celebrity roast series.

Dino Crocetti was born to immigrant parents in Steubenville, Ohio. He left school in the tenth grade and worked at numerous jobs – including a boxer under the name of “Kid Crochet,” and dealing cards at local gambling casinos – before he started singing with neighborhood bands. He sang with one band for several years, changing his name to Dino Martini; and later sang with the Cleveland-based Sammy Watkins Orchestra as Dean Martin. In 1943, Martin moved to New York City and was booked into the Rio Bamba Club, a popular nightclub that also featured Frank Sinatra. A year later, Martin had a 15-minute radio show where he would sing several songs.

 

In 1946, Martin met Jerry Lewis, and they started performing together, creating a partnership the following year, and working for ten years on stage, television, in movies, and on the radio. Martin continued to record songs, including the top-selling “That’s Amore” in 1953. After the partnership dissolved, Martin starred in his first dramatic movie role in “The Young Lions;” receiving much praise for his performance, and leading to roles in many other movie roles including “Rio Bravo,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Airport,” “The Cannonball Run” (I and II), and the “Matt Helm” series.

 

In the late 1950s, Martin teamed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and others in “The Rat Pack,” with many stage appearances in Las Vegas, and numerous movies in the 60s. In 1964, Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes” replaced The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night,” as the number one song in America. The following year, Martin starred in the comedy-variety “The Dean Martin Show,” which aired for ten years, and caused the spin-off “Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,” that ended in 1984.

 

Since 1996, Steubenville has hosted an annual Dean Martin Festival, and in 2002, the Ohio State Legislature proclaimed June 7th (Martin’s birthday), a state holiday. The Dean Martin Committee oversees festival activities and also provides scholarships to local students. Steubenville’s tributes to Martin include an historic marker, a mural, and Dean Martin Boulevard, the main road through town. In 2005, nine miles of a Las Vegas road was renamed Dean Martin Drive. During his career, Martin was nominated for numerous Emmy and Golden Globe awards and won the Golden Globe Award in 1967 for “The Dean Martin Show.” Martin has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – for television, motion pictures, and recordings. In February 2009, Martin received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the music industry.

 

Official Website

 

The Dean Martin Fan Center

 

Dean Martin Festival

 

Photographs of Dean Martin

 

Visit Steubenville

 

Memories Are Made of This (Book by daughter, Deana Martin)

 

 

Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) At seven years old, Menotti was composing songs and at eleven, he wrote his first opera. He was 13 – and had completed a second opera – when he began formal training at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan. He emigrated to America in 1927, received a music degree in 1933, and wrote an opera that was performed by the Metropolitan Opera which led to a commission from NBC to write the first opera for radio. A string of operas followed and in 1951, Menotti wrote Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera written specifically for television and the most frequently performed opera in the world.

In 1958 in Spoleto, he founded Festival dei due mondi – the Festival of the two worlds – a collaboration of music in Europe and America, and in 1977 the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina was established. As composer and librettist, Menotti received two Pulitzer Prizes in music, two Drama Critic Awards, and a Music Critics Circle Award. He was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the arts in 1984, and the 1991 "Musician of the Year" award by Musical America.

Biography and Essay

About the Composer

Gian Carlo Menotti Obituary

 

Ezio Pinza (1892-1957) Considered by many to be the world’s greatest bass baritone of the early twentieth century, Pinza sang for several years in Italy before his debut at La Scala in 1922. Four years later, he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He performed there for 22 seasons, with a repertoire of over 80 roles in more than 750 performances; and is most identified with the roles of Don Giovanni, Ramfis, Figaro, and Boris Godunov among others. In 1948, Pinza retired from the Met and one year later he was on Broadway appearing in South Pacific, which ran for five years.

Biography and Recordings

Ezio Pinza

 

Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) An international icon in the entertainment industry and of an era in time, Frank Sinatra was the ultimate performer. Within ten years, his local club appearances and traveling stage shows led to singing with popular bands, radio shows, numerous recordings, occasional movie roles, and as a solo singer backed by an orchestra. Sinatra studied the music of the “big bands,” and developed his singing style of phrasing, timing, breath control, and lyrical interpretation; techniques he perfected that have since influenced singers and musicians in all genres. Labeled “The Voice” early in his singing career, Sinatra appealed to so many teenaged fans, the term “bobby soxers” was used to describe them. In the 1950s, Sinatra became a successful movie and television star; and in the 60s, he was a star attraction and regular performer in Las Vegas, contributing to the popularity of the city as it grew to become an entertainment center.  He continued to record songs and albums, sing on radio and television shows, and, in 1960, he formed Reprise, his own record label.

The only child of Italian immigrants who settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, Francis Albert Sinatra worked as a laborer during his teens, but had an inherent interest in music. In 1939, after years of singing locally, on the radio, and in shows, bandmaster Harry James hired Sinatra as a vocalist for the band. Shortly after, Sinatra performed for the number-one bandleader at the time, Tommy Dorsey, and was later signed to sing with Dorsey’s band. In 1942, he performed as a solo artist with Benny Goodman at the Paramount Theatre in New York City, the first of his many sold-out performances. In the ten years that followed, Sinatra released over 200 songs, and performed throughout the United States on radio shows, in nightclubs, on stage, and in movies.

 

In 1945, Sinatra starred in “The House I Live In,” a short film about religious tolerance. The film received an Honorary Oscar during the 1946 Academy Awards. In 1953, his role in “From Here to Eternity” earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and led to many other movie roles, including his highly acclaimed roles in “The Man with the Golden Arm” and “The Manchurian Candidate.” During the late 1950s, Sinatra formed a bond with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and others to become the leader of “The Rat Pack.” Sinatra’s friendship with Sammy Davis Jr., and other African American performers, caused him to be the leading force behind desegregation in Las Vegas.

 

Throughout his career, Sinatra was a philanthropist of many causes, particularly of children in need, but he avoided publicity about this part of his life. He traveled throughout the world and performed concerts, many times paying for the expenses out of his pocket. He was well-known for his generosity to not only his friends, but also to others who were facing difficulties. Sinatra was also a supporter of the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, and was responsible for the reunion of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in 1976.

 

Sinatra worked with top professionals in the entertainment industry and received numerous nominations and awards – Grammy, Emmy, Academy, and others – for his recordings, television shows, movie roles, and philanthropy. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the HFPA (Golden Globe) in 1971, and from the Screen Actors Guild in 1973; in 1970 he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (given during the Academy Awards for “outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes”). Sinatra has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures, recordings, and television. Among his many other awards and honors, in 1983 he received The Kennedy Center Honor, and in 1985, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was recently announced that an agreement has been made to film a major motion picture of Sinatra’s life.

 

Official Website

 

Photographs and Recollections (Sinatra Family Website)

 

Frank Sinatra Foundation

 

Sinatra: NJ.com (Scroll Down)

 

Frank Sinatra - Through the Lens of Jazz

 

Photographs of Frank Sinatra

 

International Main Event

 

Word for Word (May 1998 Article)

 

"My Way" (Video)

 

Frank Sinatra: An American Legend (Book by daughter, Nancy)

 

 

Luisa Tetrazzini (1871-1940) As one of the most popular coloratura sopranos – signified by a light, high voice, with several short floating notes replacing one longer note and runs that are extended several notes beyond the bar – of the early twentieth century, Tetrazzini’s operatic career started in Italy. After traveling throughout the world – Russia, Spain, South America, and Mexico – she debuted in London in 1907 to international acclaim and was signed by Oscar Hammerstein I to sing at the Manhattan Opera. A buyout of the Opera House led to a contract dispute, and claiming she would sing for free in the streets in San Francisco, on Christmas Eve in 1910, Tetrazzini sang before more than 200,000 at Lotta’s Fountain. A plaque marks the historic event. San Francisco is also where the popular Chicken Tetrazzini was first prepared in her honor.

Luisa Tetrazzini: The Florentine Nightingale

Brief Biography and Photographs

Tetrazzini at Lotta’s Fountain

Pasta Tetrazzini

 

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) More than fifty years after his final performance, Toscanini – known for his photographic memory, strong beliefs in music interpretation, and demand for perfection – reigns supreme as one of the world’s greatest conductors. At 13 he played cello in an orchestra, and at 19 his last-minute substitution as conductor of Verdi’s Aida in Rio de Janeiro set the course for his career. In 1898, he became director of La Scala and reorganized the performances to maximize the integrity of the music. From 1908 to 1915, he conducted at the Metropolitan Opera House. Returning to Italy during World War I, in 1921, he assembled a new La Scala orchestra and toured for eight months – three months in the United States.

In 1926 he began conducting with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and led a European tour of the company in 1930. Seven years later, with plans to make radio educational and cultural, the NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for Toscanini. Many credit him today for bringing classical music to the masses. He returned to Italy to reopen the demolished La Scala in 1946, but he continued to conduct the NBC orchestra until his retirement in 1954 at the age of 87.

Toscanini has appeared on the cover of TIME magazine twice and in 1987 he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions to the recording industry. A United States postage stamp was issued in his honor in 1989. This year, the 50th anniversary of his passing, in honor of his musical career and his stand against fascism, Italy is hosting numerous events in tribute to il Maestro.

Toscanini, The Recorded Legend

New York Public Library: Toscanini Legacy Scores

Museo Casa Natale (In Italian)

 

 

 
 
Copyright 2007-2014 Janice Therese Mancuso
 
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission except when published with this credit: Excerpt from Thirty-One Days of Italians, 2014 Janice Therese Mancuso.