Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco(b.1895, Florence, Italy; d.1968, Beverly Hills, California) was a prolific composer, pianist, critic, and teacher best known today for his compositions for guitar. His studies with the composer Ildebrando Pizzetti exposed him to the Italian modernist movement, but his growing interest in neoclassicism (and later, neoromanticism) differentiated his work from later modernist developments. His early career was established with compositions for voice such as33 Shakespeare Songs(1921–1925) and the operaLa Mandragola(premiered 1926); he was active as a pianist and music critic as well.In the 1930s, he wrote two of his most widely performed works:Violin Concerto No. 2,I profeti(for Jascha Heifetz) and theGuitar Concerto in D(for Andres Segovia).
In 1939, in reaction to Italian racial laws targeting Jews, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and his family left Italy for the United States. Within a year after arriving, the family had settled in California, withCastelnuovo-Tedescoworkingas a composer of film scores,first at MGM, and then for other studios on a freelance basis. In addition to his studio work, he became one of the most sought after teachers of music for film, with students such as Andre Previn, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Nelson Riddle.
In addition to teaching, Castelnuovo-Tedesco continued to compose; his works in this period include several oratorios (beginning withRuth, 1949), as well as Jewish liturgical music commissioned by American synagogues (such asSacred Service for the Sabbath Eve, 1943). His close friendship with Segovia inspired more compositions for the guitar, including theConcerto sereno(1953) and the song cyclePlatero y yo(1960). In 1957, Castelnuovo-Tedesco returned to opera, scoring a great success withThe Merchant of Venice(premiered Florence, 1961). By his death in 1968, he had completed more than 200 compositions.
Lisbeth Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco