Giannini, Vittorio, American composer and teacher, son of Ferruccio and brother of Dusolina Giannini; b. Philadelphia, Oct. 19, 1903; d. N.Y, Nov. 28, 1966. Brought up in a musical family, he showed a precocious talent. He was sent to Italy at the age of 10, and studied at the Milan Cons. (1913-17). After returning to the U.S., he took private lessons with Martini and Trucco in N.Y.; in 1925 he entered the Juilliard graduate school, where he was a pupil of Rubin Goldmark in composition and Hans Letz in violin; in 1932 he won the American Prix de Rome; was in Rome for a period of 4 years. Upon his return to N.Y., he was appointed to the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in 1939 as a teacher of composition and orchestration; in 1941 he also became an instructor in theory; furthermore, he was appointed prof. of composition at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia in 1956. In 1965 became the first director of the N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. As a composer, Giannini was at his best in opera, writing music of fine emotional eclat, excelling in the art of bel canto and avoiding extreme modernistic usages; in his symphonic works, he also continued the rich Italian tradition; these qualities endeared him to opera singers, but at the same time left his music out of the mainstream of contemporary music making.
DRAMATIC Opera: Lucedia (Munich, Oct. 20, 1934); Not all Prima Donnas are Ladies (n.d.); The Scarlet Letter (1937; Hamburg, June 2, 1938); Flora (1937); Beauty and the Beast (CBS, Nov. 24, 1938; stage premiere, Hartford, Conn., Feb. 14, 1946); Blennerhasset (CBS, Nov. 22, 1939); Casanova (n.d.); The Taming of the Shrew (1952; concert premiere, Cincinnati, Jan. 31, 1953; television premiere, NBC, March 13, 1954); Christus (1956); The Harvest (Chicago, Nov. 25, 1961); Rehearsal Call (1961; N.Y, Feb. 15, 1962); The Servant of 2 Masters (1966; N.Y, March 9, 1967); Edipus Rex (unfinished). ORCH.: Concerto Grosso for Strings (1931); Suite (1931); Piano Concerto (1935); Sym., In Memoriam Theodore Roosevelt (1935; N.Y, Jan. 19, 1936, composer conducting); Sym., IBM. (1939); 5 numbered syms.: No. 1, Sinfonia (1950; Cincinnati, April 6, 1951), No. 2 (1955; St. Louis, April 16, 1956), No. 3 for Band (1958), No. 4 (N.Y, May 26, 1960), and No. 5 (1965); Organ Concerto (1937); Prelude, Chorale,and Fugue (1939); Violin Concerto (1944); Trumpet Concerto (1945); Frescobaldiana (1948); 3 divertimentos (1953,1961, 1964); Prelude and Fugue for Strings (1955); Love’s Labour Lost, suite for Chamber Orch. (1958); Psalm CXXX for Double Bass or Cello and Chamber Orch. (1963). CHAMBER: 2 violin sonatas (1926, 1945); String Quartet (1930); Piano Quintet (1931); Piano Trio (1931); Woodwind Quintet (1933); Sonata for Solo Violin (1945); piano pieces. VOCAL : Stabat mater for Chorus and Orch. (1920); Madrigal for 4 Solo Voices and String Quartet (1931); Primavera, cantata (1933); Requiem for Chorus and Orch. (1937); Lament for Adonis, cantata (1940); Canticle of Christmas for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1951); Canticle of the Martyrs for Chorus and Orch. for the 500th anniversary of the Moravian Church (1956); The Medead for Soprano and Orch. (1960); Antigone for Soprano and Orch. (1962); numerous songs.
M. Mark, The Life and Works of V. G. (1903-1966) (diss., Catholic Univ. of America, 1970).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire