Composer Carlo Rustichelli, who wrote film scores for some of Italy’s greatest directors during a half-century-long career, died Nov. 13 in Rome following a long illness. He was 87.
From 1939-95 Rustichelli created music for more than 200 movies, including Federico Fellini’s “Satyricon,” Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Mamma Roma,” Pietro Germi’s “Divorce, Italian Style,” Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Kapo” and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Grim Reaper.” His soundtracks spanned a multiplicity of genres, from comedies and slasher pics to social, existential and political dramas.
A native of Carpi and a graduate of the nearby Bologna conservatory, where he studied piano, Rustichelli moved to Rome and majored in composition at the Santa Cecilia Academy. After starting his career in the Italian capital as an opera stage manager, he began writing music for plays and, starting in 1939, for films.
Rustichelli, who loved Richard Wagner, at times punctuated films with thundering orchestral arrangements, as in the score for Pietro Germi’s anti-Mafia drama “In the Name of the Law.” But the versatile and innovative composer was also fond of recalling how he used unconventional instruments, such as blenders and fire extinguishers, to dramatize some of Italy’s early sci-fi pics. He employed an ironic bossa nova rhythm for Mario Bava’s slasher classic “Blood and Black Lace.”
Winner of two Silver Ribbons, Italy’s top critical kudos, Rustichelli in 1972 wrote the music for one of Billy Wilder’s last films, the Capri-set comedy “Avanti!”
He is survived by his wife Evi, a son and a daughter.