Elisabetta Umiliani writes...

Piero Umiliani

In March 2003 I got an email from Elisabetta Umiliani, daughter of the late composer. She had heard about my site from a friend. She told me that "as far as the discussion on who wrote Mah na Mah na, I can assure you that it was composed by my father. The words don't mean anything, it was only a joke."

She kindly offered to answer any questions I had about her father, and I sent her a few, asking about what her memories of her father were, from when she was a child. She replied, noting that some of my questions were not easy to answer, as it was difficult to write about personal memories. I am very grateful to Elisabetta for sharing her recollections with me, and with you, dear reader.

"My father composed mostly at home, on the piano. His studio was right above my bedroom. He usually worked at night and I remember falling asleep listening to the sound of the piano. When he composed he never played the whole theme. It seems to me that he had the theme already in his head and that he only worked out some passages on the piano .

He had his own recording studio but, before this, I remember going with him a few times to the RCA recording studios in Rome. I think the first time I went with him I must have been 11 or 12 years old.

Generally, I never spent too much time with him when he was working. I often found the recording sessions quite boring. I preferred when he was recording the music score of a movie, because there was a big orchestra that played while a scene of the movie was being shown on a big screen. I remember my father directing the orchestra and timing the music.

I can't really tell you exactly how many records he released. Probably more than 100 LPs and 45s.
He wrote the soundtracks for more than 200 Italian movies. His music was also widely used for documentaries and different programs on the Italian TV .

In Italy he was famous especially in the 60s and the 70s. He composed the soundtrack of movies that here are still incredibly popular. The most popular movie probably is "I soliti ignoti" ("Big Deal on Madonna Street") and this was also his first movie. He was the first composer to use Jazz music for an Italian movie. Chet Baker played his trumpet in this soundtrack.

In the 70s he experimented a lot with electronic music, especially with the Synthesizer.

In the early 80s he suffered a severe cerebral hemorage. At first the doctors told us that he was going to die. Instead he survived but the brain damage was so extensive that he had to learn everything again, to talk, to read, to write, to play... It took him years to recover. It was only in the last years of his life that he had started to work and perform in public again. Everyone thought that his recovery was a real miracle. As you probably know, he died suddenly in February 2001.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

I think my father would have enjoyed reading your site.


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