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Mario Pilati (1903 - 1938)

Mario Pilati was born in Naples in 1903 and was sent by his parents to a commercial school, where he qualified as a bookkeeper. He had studied Latin and Greek on his own, however, and had also started composing music. This allowed him at the age of fifteen to enter the composition class of the Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella, after a short period of study at the Naples Liceo Musicale. His teacher Antonio Savasta recognised Pilati’s natural talent, the cause of envy in his fellow students, who frequently teased him, calling him a revolutionary. His outstanding gifts also drew the attention of the director of the Conservatory, Francesco Cilea, who did much to encourage him. At the age of nineteen Pilati was awarded his composer’s diploma summa cum laude and was shortly afterwards appointed as a teacher in the composition class of the Conservatory of Cagliari. In 1925, on the advice of Pizzetti, he decided to move to Milan, a musical capital that would eventually suit better his taste and ambitions, but not without enormous initial difficulties. In Milan Pilati survived as an arranger of vocal scores for Casa Ricordi, as a teacher and as a music critic. He also gave private lessons in composition and Gianandrea Gavazzeni was among his pupils. Gradually his works came to be performed and appreciated and to win awards in Italy, with the Piano Quintet in D of 1926, the most important of his earlier works, exemplifying his most personal style. His name became known to leading musicians of the time, such as , Alfredo Casella, Arturo Toscanini, Mario Rossi, Franco Capuana, Victor de Sabata and Dimitri Mitropoulos, and he was admitted to the Biennale, the prestigious Venice festival of modern music. Three important companies, Casa Ricordi, Fratelli Curci and Carisch started publishing and promoting his works.

In 1930 Pilati accepted appointment as a professor of counterpoint at the Conservatory which he had left less than a decade earlier, returning to his beloved Naples, which now furnished him with all the necessary musical inspiration. In 1933 he was nominated a professor in composition at the Conservatory of Palermo and, in 1938, again in Naples. He held this final position only a few months: the fatal illness, which had been diagnosed two years earlier, had reached its final stage. He succumbed to it on 10 December, dying at the age of 35.




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