Strongly artistic, multifaceted, innovative, can best describe Riz Ortolani’s personality, composer and orchestra director with a production background that spans from the cinema to the theatre, from classical music to television programs.
Not yet twenty, after graduating from the Gioachino Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, his city, he moved to Rome, where he joined a group of young instrumentalists of the RAI orchestra. He soon stood out to the company managers, who assigned him to direct a jazz-symphony orchestra, resulting in immediate popularity.
His movie career started in 1962 with the sound track for the Mondo Cane documentary. The main song in the movie, More, sung by Katyna Ranieri (his wife), results in an Oscar Nomination in 1964 as “Best Theme Song” and wins the Grammy Award as “Best Instrumental Theme”. More was recorded by more than one thousand of the greatest artists in the world with 70 million records sold. Ortolani was the fist Italian musician to receive such wide ranging, large recognition repeatedly over the years, both in Italy and abroad.
Collaborations with the American Studios (MGM, United Artist, Universal) and with directors like Vittorio De Sica, Dino Risi, Franco Zeffirelli, Terence Young, Edward Dmytryk were extremely important; as well as long and fruitful artistic associations with Damiano Damiani and Pupi Avati. Among his scores, some achieved veritable “cult” status: from Mondo Cane to The Easy Life, from Anzio to Farewell Africa, from The Yellow Rolls Royce to Women of the World, from Valachi Papers to Brother Sun, Sister Moon, up to the more recent Ma Quando Arrivano Le Ragazze, La Rivincita di Natale, Il Papà di Giovanna, Una Sconfinata Giovinezza.
In 2001, in the Rossini Theater of Pesaro, the first symphony piece was performed: Sinfonia della Memoria (Symphony of Memory). In 2004, at the “Maggio Musicale Fiorentino”, his first ballet is presented by the title In Una Parte di Cielo, inspired by the life of Michelangelo.
In 2007, in Pesaro, with his wife Katina Ranieri, he established the Riz Ortolani Foundation to promote music through scholarships, seminars, discussions, concerts and exhibitions. During the same year the Musical Il Principe della Gioventù, inspired by the fascinating historical event of the Pazzi Conspiracy at the time of the Renaissance in Florence.
During the course of his long career, Ortolani directed prestigious symphonies such as the London, Berlin, Houston, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico, the Fenice in Venice, the Sinfonica of the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, the Regio of Turin and the Philharmonique of Monte Carlo. His tour of Japan directing the Vienna Symphony Orchestra was memorable.