Pino Donaggio began his involvement with music at the age of ten years. Born in 1941, in Burano, in the Venetian lagoon Italy. Donaggio commenced studies in violin at the Venice Conservatory. He continued these studies at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan, and by the time that he was fourteen had become the violin soloist for a performance of Vivaldi Concerti, later he performed with the chamber orchestras I SOLISTI and I SOLISTI DI MILANO. During the 1960,s Donaggio decided to change his musical direction slightly, and moved into song writing and arranging popular music. His work became much in demand and a number of his songs were recorded and performed by some of the worlds leading vocalists, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Elvis Presley among them. In 1973 the composer was offered a break into film music by director Nicolas Roeg, the director asked Donaggio to score DONT LOOK NOW, which was based upon the chilling supernatural story as penned by Daphne de Maurier. After the success of this soundtrack, Donaggio was commissioned to write the music for an Italian movie entitled CORRUZIONE AL PALAZZO DI GIUSTIZIA ( aka- CORRUPTION IN THE HALLS OF —— JUSTICE, or STREETS OF ETERNITY ), which was released in 1974, The director of the movie, Marcello Aliprandi, and Donaggio would collaborate another five times in the period between 1974 and 1982. In fact Donaggio had scored two movies for Aliprandi prior to being offered a movie that would bring him to the attention of the film music community. In 1976, the composer was assigned to write the score for a Brian de Palma film entitled CARRIE. De Palma had originally wanted composer Bernard Herrmann to work on the movie, but whilst negotiating with Herrmann the famed film music composer was taken ill and subsequently passed away. This left De Palma without a composer, and also a looming completion deadline, De Palma and Herrmann had worked together on SISTERS and OBSESSION, so the director was obviously looking for something which was akin to the style of Herrmann. A friend of De Palma,s had been taken with Donaggio,s music for DONT LOOK NOW, and gave De Palma a copy of the soundtrack album. After listening to the recording the director was convinced that Donaggio was right for the movie, so Donaggio was sent a rough cut copy of CARRIE which had been temp tracked with selections of Herrmanns classic PSYCHO soundtrack, this was to give Donaggio an idea of what was required, the rest as they say is history, CARRIE the movie went onto attain cult status and was acclaimed by all who saw it, and Donaggio,s atmospheric and tension filled score gained much attention and recognition, and placed the composer firmly on the film music map.
De Palma once said of Donaggio, ” Pino Donaggio is always able to create the right musical solutions for moments of suspense, but he also has the ability to maintain an aire of sweetness and lyricism which I feel is necessary in my films”.After this first encounter with the directorial talents of Brian De Palma, the composer was hailed as the logical successor to Bernard Herrmann, Donaggio worked with De Palma on a number of movies after CARRIE, and their artistic partnership always proved to be an original, interesting and fruitful one. HOME MOVIES, DRESSED TO KILL, BLOW OUT, BODY DOUBLE and RAISING CANE, are all perfect examples of image and music working together to create the desired and most effective atmosphere. Donaggio also worked with director Joe Dante on two of the filmmakers early projects, and provided the director with excellent soundtracks for his rather tongue in cheek horror flicks, PIRANHA and THE HOWLING. Both of which the director made before he hit the Hollywood big time with GREMLINS.Although Donaggio easily fits into the category of a busy and successful film music composer, he has not really scored any movie that can be called a blockbuster. The composer says that he puts this down to not moving to America, ” I suppose, I should have uprooted myself and gone to Hollywood when they asked me too, I instead decided to stay in Italy, and I must admit I missed out on doing further work with Joe Dante, which was a shame, I also missed the opportunity to work with Ridley Scott, and compose the scores for OLD GRINGO, THE BELIEVERS and SAIGON, to name just three, this is because when they called me about these movies, and proposed that I work on them I was always working on something else in Italy, which was invariably for a friend, and a small production”. Donaggio is certainly well know and respected for his film music compositions, and there is no doubt that the composers style or sound is particularly qualified for the horror and thriller genres, but like Bernard Herrmann, Donaggio is also capable of producing tender and subtle works that are rich in melody and highly emotive when employed in the correct situation. He is still one of the busiest composers that is working in film music today, and has well over 100 film and television score to his credit, and is able to bring something fresh, original and exciting to listeners with each new score. Although Donaggio was not part of the Italian western whirlwind that took Europe by storm, he like many Italian composers was involved in the scoring of westerns but it is probably his music for the horror genre that he is most recognized for, he continues to write for film and still has a busy schedule.