Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905 Venice -1980 Tunbridge Wells)
Composer, Conductor, Musical Director and Violinist.
Before the Beatles appeared in the 1960s, Mantovani was the most popular musician in Britain and the first to sell over 1 million long playing records. His signature ‘cascading strings’ poured into British homes via the wireless and were the background to everyone’s daily life in the 1940s and 50s. Cascading Strings or the Mantovani Sound, was developed by his musical arranger Ronnie Binge and first heard on their hit Charmaine in 1951. Variety Magazine described Mantovani as ‘the biggest musical phenomenon of the 20th Century’.
Mantovani came from a musical family. His father was a violinist and concertmaster at La Scala in Milan. The family came to London in 1912 when Annunzio was 7. A prodigious talent, he studied at Trinity College of Music and was giving classical violin recitals at the age of 16. After graduation in 1925 he became conductor to the Hotel Metropole Orchestra in Leeds whilst also pursuing a career as a concert violinist.
By 1931 he had abandoned his solo career in favour of conducting his own orchestra. Mantovani and his Orchestra grew in popularity. He was also musical director for various popular musicals and West End plays and was performing for BBC radio broadcasts. He began recording with Decca Records in 1951 and went on to record over 50 albums many of which were top 40 hits.
Mantovani’s cascading violin style foreshadowed synthesizer harmonics and influenced many later popular musicians such as Andrew Lloyd Weber. Mantovani continued to record until the mid 1970s.
His wife predeceased him in 1977 and afterwards, in failing health, Mantovani moved from Poole to Tunbridge Wells. His son, an electrical engineer was running a family business, Faulkner Mantovani on Grosvenor Road. Mantovani died in a Nursing Home on Clarence Road on 29th March 1980 and was cremated.