Italian music today mourns the death of the Master of Catania, Franco Battiato, who died at the age of 76
The Italian musician Franco Battiato has died at the age of 76 in the old castle of the family in Milo (Sicily), after years fighting against Alzheimer’s, as reported in a tweet by Antonio Spadaro, director of Civiltà Cattolica.
“And you will recover from all illnesses. Because you are a special being and I will take care of you. Ciao, Franco Battiato”, picked up Spadaro’s tweet announcing the news of Battiato’s death.
“He left us a Master. One of the greatest Italian composers. Unique, inimitable always looking for new artistic expressions. He leaves a perennial legacy”, recalled the Italian Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, after hearing the sad news.
— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) May 18, 2021
From progressive and avant-garde rock to pop music, Franco Battiato has made his mark on Italian music through the myriad of styles that he has deepened and combined with each other in an eclectic and personal way. A few months ago, La voce del padrone, one of his most popular albums, was reissued. A masterpiece, which next September will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of its publication.
Battiato was one of the most significant, complex, and versatile artists in the Italian artistic universe. Born on March 23, 1945, in Riposto (formerly Ionia), in the province of Catania, Battiato moved to Milan after the death of his father in the first half of the 1960s to realize his passion, a career as a professional. In the music’s world.
At the cabaret club 64, where he plays and sings, he meets Paolo Poli, Enzo Jannacci, Renato Pozzetto, Bruno Lauzi, and Giorgio Gaber with whom he establishes a lasting friendship.
He wrote with him the song And then come on that, sung by Gaber and Caterina Caselli, and with which he competed in San Remo 1967. In 1973 a cultural and advertising operator called Gianni Sassi looked for something new and disruptive to promote Iris ceramics, tiles of luxury that faithfully represent a recently plowed clod of earth, and finds support in the singular Sicilian artist in love with the style of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio.
Battiato makes avant-garde music and poetry, challenging an audience unaccustomed to dissonances and other follies in concerts. After his first works with Giorgio Gaber and Ombretta Colli, he debuted as a soloist with Bla-Bla de Pino Massara with the albums Fetus and Pollution, before being played by the greats of contemporary music such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, the latter one of his great friends.
Intuitive and not very technical musician, Battiato made his first sound ascents with more substantial records such as Sulle corde di Aries (1973), Clic (1974), and Mademoiselle le gladiateur (1975). After the initial pop phase of the 1960s, he switched to progressive and avant-garde rock in the following decade. But he never abandoned that pop music to which he returned years later, also delving into the composition. Among the other styles in which he has tried his luck are ethnic music, electronic music, and opera.
Despite having created complex musical works such as Gilgamesh staged at the Rome Opera or the piano sonata Egypt before the arenas , Battiato managed to win the 1981 San Remo festival as an author, having composed with Giusto Pio and the piece Per Elisa.
Battiato was then living a magical moment at the center of a close-knit artistic association composed of him, the violinist Giusto Pio, the producer Angelo Carrara, the singer Giuni Russo, the singer Mino di Martino, the musician Francesco Messina and the composer and pianist Roberto. Cacciapaglia.
But the magic with which he wields the tangled wires of the rudimentary synthesizers of the time is extraordinary, as evidenced by the electronic geometries of Proprietad prohibila on the Clic album. A magical and hypnotic crescendo that still enchants today. One of the most revealing albums of his career continues to be Caffè de la Paix, where “the unconscious communicates fragments of buried truth to us.
On a human and musical level, Franco Battiato remains an enigma. His creativity is backed by harsh spiritual discipline. His musical paths usually have distant and tortuous inspirations and difficult expressive forms that allude to remote and initiatory cultures and symbols.
Battiato, who also produced a Milva album with her songs and wrote Giuni Russo’s summer hits such as A summer at the sea, acted in various artistic fields: painting, cinema with the soundtrack of the film Una vita niche (released in 1990), centered on the figure of Benvenuto Cellini. In recent years he had collaborated with the philosopher Manlio Sgalambro.
Battiato was very devoted to his mother. When he bought the Moncada castle in Milo, he had the chapel that was part of the complex rebuilt and every morning a priest said mass for his mother.
In the restoration of the castle, Battiato gutted the cellars creating a ballroom of more than 200 square meters with the floor made from the oak wood of the barrels.