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February 4, 2006

Jazz Pianist Romano Mussolini Dies

Written by
cindy mcleod

Internationally recognized jazz pianist Romano Mussolini, son of Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, died on Friday at the age of 78.

Mussolini, who dedicated his life to music and was an accomplished painter, remained true to his father’s memory while steering clear of politics.

Born the next to last child, Romano and his brother Vittorio learned to love jazz music in their youth despite the fact that their father’s nationalistic regime had heavily censored it because it was considered foreign.

During the Fascist era, recordings by American artists, especially black ones, were released with the musicians given Italian names. Thus Italians first knew Louis Armstrong as Luigi Fortebraccio.

After the war Romano Mussolini became a leading figure in the Italian jazz scene. His first professional gigs were in a quartet with Carlo Loffredo, which recorded a popular version of ‘How High the Moon’.

Romano Mussolini’s popularity soared during the ‘50s & ’60s, when he worked with Italy’s leading trumpeter of the time, Nunzio Rotondo. He also worked with Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Tony Scott and other American jazz greats.

His musical idol and inspiration was Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and it was thanks to Mussolini that the Canadian musician enjoyed great popularity in Italy.

Romano Mussolini was married to Anna Maria Scicolone, the sister of Italian film star Sophia Loren, and his daughter is the fiery hard-right MP Alessandra Mussolini.

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