Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Florence, 3 April 1895 – Beverly Hills, 16 March 1968) was born into a Jewish family of Sephardic descent (Jews expelled from Spain in 1492). He was extraordinarily creative, to his credit he worked on all sorts of things: piano works, concertos, operas…. His compositions were played by the great: Walter Gieseking, Gregor Piatigorsky, Jascha Heifetz, Casella.
Heifetz plays Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s second violin concerto: ‘I Propheti’. Recording from 1954:
Today, we know him mainly for his guitar works, nearly a hundred in all, mostly written for Andres Segovia.
Segovia plays the Guitar Concerto No.1 in D major, Op. 99; live recording from 1939:
In the beginning of the 1930s the composer began to explore his “Jewish Roots”, which was intensified by the rising of fascism and the racial laws. His music was not performed anymore. Helped by Arturo Toscanini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and his family were able to leave Italy just before the beginning of World War 2.
Like most Jewish composers who fled Europe, Castelnuovo-Tedesco ended up in Hollywood. Where, thanks to Jascha Heifetz, he was appointed composer of film music by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
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