Piero Piccioni

Italian film music composer

Italo film music composer Piero Piccioni, whose music graced the films of Italy’s top directors, died in Rome Friday of unknown causes. He was 82.

Piccioni, who until the 1950s used the pseudonym Piero Morgan, was born in Turin and began his musical career as a radio jazz pianist in the late 1930s.

In the 1950s the composer’s reputation was briefly tainted when he was connected with a famous crime, locally dubbed the Montesi case, in which a young girl was found dead in a Roman beach community.

Although the composer was completely exonerated from association with the crime, the effects of the scandal reached into his family life when his father, Attilo Piccioni, Italy’s foreign minister at that time, was forced to step down from his job.

Nevertheless, Piero Piccioni composed over 100 scores during his prolific career, most notably for comedies, but also for dramas, political stories and social satires.

His most famous work was featured in the films of comedic helmer-actor Alberto Sordi, such as Sordi’s directorial debut, 1966’s “Fumo di Londra” (Smoke of London), for which Piccioni created a soundtrack mixing sounds of American jazz and London popular music.

Piccioni went on to score numerous other Sordi films, such as “An Italian in America,” “Stardust” and “Forbidden Encounters.”

He also composed scores for Francesco Rosi’s 1961 film “Salvatore Giuliano,” Vittorio De Sica’s 1963 “Il Boom” and Lina Wertmuller’s 1972 political drama “The Seduction of Mimi.”

In addition, Piccioni created soundtracks for influential helmers like Bernardo Bertolucci, Luchino Visconti, Dino Risi (“Poor but Beautiful”) and Tinto Brass and composed the score for the Italo release of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt.”

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