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revised by Giordano Montecchi

(b Milan, Italy, 3 Dec 1911; d Rome, Italy, 10 April 1979). Italian composer. A child prodigy he was composing at the age of eight. He attended the Milan Conservatory (from 1923), then moved to Rome (1926), where he took his diploma at the St. Cecilia Conservatory (1929). On the advice of Toscanini he studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia (1931–2) with Rosario Scalero (composition) and Fritz Reiner (conducting). He formed a friendship with Aaron Copland and discovered American popular song, cinema, and the music of George Gershwin: all these elements were grafted onto his passion for Italian popular song and operetta. Rota's idiom was exceptionally and uninhibitedly responsive to a wide variety of influences and was supported by a masterly technique, an elegant manner, and a capacity for stylistic assimilation.

After World War II Rota established himself as a film composer, despite the low standing it held within the contemporary music scene. In film music he used his eclectic inclinations and treated the boundaries of the film medium as a challenge, so producing some of the finest music of the genre. In ...