UNSUNG HEROES OF ITALIAN FILM MUSIC.

ALDO PIGA.

Composer Aldo Piga is a Maestro that we very rarely hear about, and it is not often that the music of Piga is discussed, until recently that is, his romantically laced soundtrack for THE SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES (1960) was recently released on LP record, on Contempo records Italy, it was possibly the rarest unreleased Italian film score and one that has remained at the top of many collectors wants lists for years. The film is by todays standards quite tame, but it is an entertaining Italian horror, having to it some Bava influenced moments, made in black and white, which adds to the atmosphere and the mood of the film,

I have always enjoyed the movie, the opening sequence is in many ways like THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE musically at least, with a moment of horror, as we see the Female vampire, set upon and attacked by villagers and being killed with pitchforks etc, followed with a vibrant and haunting piano concerto like piece that plays over the opening credits. One maybe would think that Aldo Piga scored but a handful of movies, whereas in fact he was at the height of his career much in demand during the 1960’s and during his career as a composer scored over a hundred feature films. It is however true to say that many of these films were not exactly A features, but the music for each and every one of them is excellent.

THE SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES is possibly Piga’s best score, the composer fusing dramatic interludes with classically slanted pieces and bringing the score together via a beautiful and haunting piano composition. The music at times is near operatic and evokes memories of the works of Puccini in places. Although the movie is essentially a horror, it is also a love story, a tale of mystery that is oozing with drama and overflowing with romanticism.

The score which supports and enhances wonderfully the story that unfolds on screen, is also a work that has a life away from the on-screen action and can easily be savoured and appreciated as just music. The piano composition is lush and lavish, and the composer utilises this romantically stylish theme to great effect.  

 

Aldo Piga (1928–1994) was an Italian-American composer who worked mainly in New York. Aldo Piga’s work for the cinema was predominately composed in the 1950’s and the 1960’s, and although Piga spent the majority of his time in The United States, his film scores were mainly for Italian produced movies. He began his career as a song-writer and this eventually led to him becoming involved in the scoring of feature films. He like so many Italian film music composers was also an important figure in the pop music world in Italy, and it is probably his involvement in popular music that put him in a good position to score movies that had tight deadlines and low budgets, his inventive and at times innovative style of composition was heavily influenced by two varying genres of music, which were classical and also be-bop jazz, which he became involved with in his early career in New York.

After scoring numerous movies, Piga decided to start working as a film producer during the late 1960s. But this was a career path that did not yield many success’s and it led to Piga not only stopping making movies but also put an end to his career as a composer. The composer had a definite affinity with the horror genre, and scored a number of Vampire movies, as well as other horror orientated productions. His music was always supportive, and the Maestro fashioned atmospheric and romantically laced soundtracks, some of which have thankfully been released.

5 TOMBA DELLA MEDIUM, IL MOSTRO DELL OPERA, being two of note, the latter having to it a definite American or Universal horror musical style. The composers work on THE VAMPIRE AND THE BALLERINA is also worthy of mention, in which the composer utilises Ondes Martinote type of sound to create a spooky and unnerving atmosphere.

The composer also worked on many other genres and his score for MARK DONEN AGENTE ZENA 7, is a must for any collector who is a fan of the Euro-spy sound, and has a great up-beat title song performed by Peter Tevis.  In the early 1990s Piga left Italy to retire and re-settled in New York where he remained until his death in 1994.

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