Composer Nino Rota (1911 – 1979) was born into a family of musicians in Milan. He was initially a student of Giacomo Orefice and Ildebrando Pizzetti until he moved to Rome while still a child and completed his studies under Alfredo Casella at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in 1929. In the meantime, he became an enfant prodige, famous as both a composer and a conductor. His first oratorio, L'infanzia di San Giovanni Battista, was performed in Milan and Paris as early as 1923, and his lyrical comedy, Il Principe Porcaro, was composed in 1926.
From 1930 to 1932, Rota lived in the U.S.A. He won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia and studied composition under Rosario Scalero and orchestra under Fritz Reiner. Rota returned to Italy and earned a degree in literature from the University of Milan. In 1937, he began a teaching career that led to the directorship of the Bari Conservatory, a title he held from 1950 until his death in 1979.
After his ‘childhood’ compositions, Rota wrote the following operas: Ariodante (Parma 1942), Torquemada (1943), Il cappello di paglia di Firenze (Palermo 1955), I due timidi (RAI 1950, London 1953), La notte di un neurastenico (Premio Italia 1959, La Scala 1960), Lo scoiattolo in gamba (Venezia 1959), Aladino e la lampada magica (Naples 1968), La visita meravigliosa (Palermo 1970), and Napoli milionaria (Spoleto Festival 1977).
He also wrote the following ballets: La rappresentazione di Adamo ed Eva (Perugia 1957), La Strada (La Scala 1965), Aci e Galatea (Rome 1971), Le Molière Imaginaire (Paris and Brussels 1976) and Amor di poeta (Brussels 1978) for Maurice Bejart.
In addition, countless of Rota works are performed worldwide.
Rota's work in film dates back to the early forties and his filmography includes virtually all of the noted directors of his time. The first of these is Federico Fellini. Rota wrote the scores for all of Fellini's films from The White Sheik in 1952 to The Orchestra Rehearsal in 1979.
Rota also collaborated with other directors, including Renato Castellani, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, Mario Monicelli, Francis Ford Coppola (he received the Oscar for Best Original Score for The Godfather II), King Vidor, René Clément, Edward Dmytrik and Eduardo de Filippo. Additionally, he composed the music for many theatre productions by Visconti, Zefirelli and de Filippo.
In February of 1995, the Nino Rota Foundation was established at Fondazione Cini of Venice, Italy. Cini specializes in the works of 20th-century Italian composers and includes the estate of Alfredo Casella.