Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (November 15, 1905 – March 29, 1980), known by the mononym Mantovani, was a popular conductor and light orchestra-style entertainer with a cascading strings musical signature. He is more associated with the light orchestra genre than any other entertainer. Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy and his father was the concertmaster of La Scala orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. His family moved to England in 1912, where he studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham. By the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular in England, both on the BBC and in live performances.
He was also musical director for a large number of musicals and other plays, including ones by Noel Coward. After the war, he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronnie Binge, who developed the "cascading strings" sound (also known as the "Mantovani sound"). His records were regulars in stores selling hi-fi stereo equipment, as they were produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. In 1952 Binge ceased to arrange for Mantovani, but his distinctive sound remained.
He recorded for Decca until the mid-1950s, and then London Records. He recorded over 50 albums on that label, many of which were top-40 hits. These included Song from Moulin Rouge and Cara Mia, which reached No. 1 in Britain in 1953 and 1954, respectively. The latter was also Mantovani's first U.S. Top Ten hit.
In the United States, between 1955 and 1972, he released over 40 albums with 27 reaching the Top 40 and 11 the Top Ten. His biggest success was with the album Film Encores, which made it to No. 1 in 1957. Similarly, Mantovani Plays Music From 'Exodus' and Other Great Themes made it to No. 2 in 1961 and sold over one million albums.
In 1959, Mantovani starred in his own syndicated television series, Mantovani, which was produced in England and which aired in the United States. 39 episodes were filmed.
Mantovani made his last recordings in 1975.
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