Biography

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ADRIANO (known by his first name only) was born in 1944 and now lives in Zürich, Switzerland. Before embracing a career in music, his field of study had been architecture and the dramatic arts, the latter leading to his appearance on stage as an actor and a pantomime artist.

In the early 1970s Adriano founded and directed a chamber group with whom he collaborated as a stage music composer, actor and writer of avant-garde plays.

In the meantime, having abandoned his studies at the Zürich Conservatoire in protest at its antiquated and narrow-minded teaching methods, he resolved to take responsibility for his own professional development, taking private tuition, among others in singing. In student circles Adriano had been a regular producer of original lectures on composers such as Erik Satie, Bernard Herrmann and Charles Ives, all relatively unknown at the time. His activities as a composer had begun in his twenties at this stage he had to his credits not only works for the stage, for film and radio, but also for the concert-hall, two piano cycles of which received their premieres on the Swiss Broadcast and on Radio Cultura, Buenos Aires.

Later in the Seventies, Adriano founded his own gramophone label, Adriano Records, on which he featured classical and film music rarities and historical recordings. As a producer he is responsible for the sound engineering, text notes and graphic design. His subsequent recordings of chamber works by Ottorino Respighi have received critical acclaim and the historical issues have also been praised for their technical qualities. On another Swiss label Adriano collaborated as a sound reprocessor in a series of historical recordings of Toscanini and Furtwängler.

It was on the advice of Joseph Keilberth and Ernest Ansermet (each of whom has had a considerable influence on Adriano's musical personality) that Adriano embarked on a conducting career. However, having such an unorthodox musical background, there were no chances in this field for such a young man in his own country; and so Adriano continued his work as a producer and stage and film composer. In 1979 he gained international reputation as an authority on Ottorino Respighi, four of whose song cycles and a piano duet suite Adriano orchestrated, and on whom he created a comprehensive exhibition at the Lucerne Music Festival. He has also published a discography on Respighi.

In 1984 and 1986 Adriano produced and directed a musical documentary and a video sketch, this latter winning a first prize at the Lausanne Festival. Shortly afterwards, he was engaged by a Zurich theatre to stage an operetta gala performance. He has also written and directed some 20 classical music videos and a portrait on Tchaikovsky, for HNH International, Hong Kong.

Adriano is an authority on film music and is engaged in the rediscovery of forgotten scores by celebrated composers. Indeed, it is his opinion that the film scores produced by Europeans frequently surpass those of Hollywood composers, although record companies have not shared this view. Arthur Honegger's incidental music to Napoléon and Les Misérables were the first scores to have been reconstructed and edited by Adriano: a task to which he brought great patience and devotion, though it was not for a further five years that a producer could be found who could appreciate the value of this music. A first Honegger CD, conducted by Adriano, has since become very successful and Marco Polo have taken the artist under contract to conduct more than a dozen recordings in a newly created series of "Marco Polo Film Music Classics", which feature such composers as Auric, Honegger, Ibert, Bliss, Herrmann, Khatchaturian and Waxman among others. This series has been awarded the Spanish "Premio Ritmo" in 1992. Furthermore, Adriano's work with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava has been so mutually rewarding that he was invited to become a regular guest of this ensemble and recently also of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Indeed, in Adriano, both this orchestra and the record company can be said to have found a dedicated and passionate conductor. It is for this reason that Adriano has accepted a supplementary contract for the production of more "current" classical rarities, which includes 6 CD's featuring world premier recordings of lesser-known works by Ottorino Respighi, Jacques Ibert and Sylvio Lazzari. In the domain of film music, Adriano is responsible for the reconstruction (and orchestration, sometimes made directly from the old soundtracks) of many important scores which, for the most part, have been considered lost. To earn his living, Adriano is also under contract at the Zürich Opera House as an Italian and French language coach and prompter, as an occasional stage assistant and teacher at the International Opera Studio. Besides this, he is an advertising speaker and concert narrator and it is for Adriano in this latter capacity that works have been specially written by Swiss composers Serge Desarnaulds and Ernst Pfiffner.

In 1986 he was asked to prepare an old-Italian translation of Telemann's opera Pimpinone for an open air performance in Italy, and in 1988 he was to be seen on stage as an actor at the Stuttgart Wilhelma Theatre, in a dramatic prologue to Galuppi's opera Il Filosofo di campagna, the play having been written out by himself from a draft by the stage director.

Currently, Adriano the composer is completing a Concertino for Celesta and Strings and working on his First Symphony and exploring the possibilities of a chamber opera based on Bram Stoker's Dracula. Issues on his own record label have been continued since 1991 by CD's of Respighi's complete piano works, by recitals of Enrico Egano and of the Zürcher Streichtrio.

For the Croatian bass-baritone Boris Martinovic, Adriano has transcribed Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death and the Song of the Flea for chamber ensemble.

Adriano is also working on a dramatic film script about a Swiss murder case of 1817, a project which, after years of unsuccessful submissions to various establishments, has now been sponsored by the Zürich Educational Direction. For his editing and reconstruction of many film scores by Honegger, Adriano has been twice awarded grants by the Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia.

Besides being an avid reader of literature from all over the world, Adriano owns a valuable library of trade literature from the beginning of the century concerning sexology and criminology. He is an enthusiast of silent films and a connoisseur of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Among his favourite composers are Brahms, Schreker, Respighi, Bernard Herrmann and Khatchaturian.

During the past years, Swiss Broadcast and Cultural TV stations have hosted Adriano as guest on an exclusive Italian and three French talkshows, and the Slovak Radio and the Sender Freies Berlin have produced portrait broadcasts. Various newspapers and magazines have published interviews and articles on the artist. By the American Biographical Institute, Adriano has been awarded a "Most Admired Man of the Decade" in 1992 and a "Most Admired Man of the Year" in 1993.

Adriano's Zürich flat is adorned with some of his over 200 early, rather erotic ink drawings, a series of which were published in 1974 by a London publisher in the form of a brochure. A visitor will also find two computers, synthesizers and audio machines of all kinds, a record library of over 10,000 items, a detailed Respighi archive and a selected musical library. He is a person of enormously wide cultural knowledge, and besides his Italian mother-tongue, he is fluent in German, French and English. His many-sided talents are not always appreciated by critics of his native country, who in comparing him with Jean Cocteau, do not always intend a compliment. In the opinion of Adriano, a specialist cannot be a complete artist. This is particularly so in the case of a conductor, who must of necessity possess a wide cultural horizon, not only in respect of learning, but also in the practical and creative aspects. To those whose reproach is that he is directing his energies into too many activities, he replies that on the contrary, he is strengthening them to complete his personality.

(Edited by William H. Lewis)

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