Piano Award Giovanna and Riccardo Albano

Special prize of International Piano Competition "Arcangelo Speranza" - Taranto


The story

      In 1946 Riccardo and Giovanna Albano were two of the new founders of the Association “Amici della Musica”, in Taranto.

      Back to the years of the foundation the Association lived the tragic events of the second world war, with a break of the scheduled concerts and performances during that time.

      The new established Association after the war had the will to help citizens getting into a better daily life, which had been hardly proved.

      From the time on – and up to present -  the Amici della Musica have had a very solid life, being a considerable reference point for the different international performers, all very happy to play here .

      In 1962 the members of the Association were the promoters of a national piano competition, become then international with a wider and more relevant participation.

      In 1986 after the death of Riccardo, the rest of his family set up a special award to be assigned upon the committee choice, called the “Albano special award” after the year 1999, when also Giovanna died.

     Born in 1904 Riccardo Albano, even as a bank general manager, was a very heart-felt of music, playing himself the violin and also the piano. He had a special talent so that he could play piano or any other instrument or composition impromptu.

     His wife Giovanna studied at the music conservatory S. Peter Maiella in Naples, she graduated for piano in masterclass Romaniello, the pride of the academic Italian tradition, together with Master Rossomandi and many others at the time.

      After the studies Giovanna came to live in Taranto, a beloved town where she taught for forty years at the Giovanni Paisiello Music Conservatory, educating entire generations of pianists.

    At Albano’s music was the daily routine, beloved and played besides the teaching. This great passion has been the heart of their lives forever, joining with the Amici della Musica and the story of the Association, particulary when a special award was established, at the fiftieth anniversary in 2012.


The friendship with Nino Rota

     Giovanna Sottomano Albano and the composer Nino Rota were very good friends. They met at the Giovanni Paisiello Music Conservatory, where both were teachers.

     Nino Rota lived here in Taranto only for two years, from 1937 to 1939, enough time to leave a mark especially in his career. His symphony no. 2 is named after the town "La Tarantina – Pilgrimage to the South".

     The two friends often met after the school, joining their great passion for music, playing together, going to concerts, talking each other.

     During the postwar years, when concerts were restored, Giovanna Sottomano Albano did all she could for getting Nino Rota back to Taranto and joining some of the concerts at Amici della Musica, the Association she managed, and from 1945 to 1948 Rota played in different musical seasons.

     He was back in Taranto to participate a conference for musical high schools in South Italy and member of the Committee at the arising piano competition, today the International Piano Competition Arcangelo Speranza.

  Nino Rota dedicated a piano valse to her friend Giovanna, composed in 1945, with the words: “ To my dear lady Giovanna Albano Sottomano, as a tribute to her from Nino Rota” – July 12, 1945 .

     The score was founded by the musician Adriano Cirillo among his old music counterpoint books, and he writes :  "The theme of the composition recalls at the beginning a melody then developed in the opera The straw hat of Florence (1945-46), suddenly has a painful wistful expression, a typical emotion of the composer, to develop then an artistry with a perfect portrait of the nineteenth century spirit”.

     Among the few piano compositions in the catalogue this valse is an example of what even a composition for an opportunity – a tribute to his friend – has been for Nino Rota the way to use his unique talent together with that artistic streak rising up on his best works.


The piano competition

     The piano competition award “Riccardo and Giovanna Albano” has been a special award from the year 1986 to 2015 at the yearly International Piano Competition “Arcangelo Speranza", among those of high-profile in Italy.

     In memory of Riccardo and his wife Giovanna as two of the founders of the Association, the award was established by the will of the Albano family in 1987 with different reasons upon the years.

     From the time of the international competition, in 2009, the special award had been assigned to the youngest performer, a degree and a scholarship.

     From 1997 to 2005 it was a “Critique award”, while in 2006 and over the years of the becoming European competition the award was that to the youngest Italian pianist, to the best Liszt’s performer in 2001, the bicentenary of the composer’s death. 

     Thanks to the will and the support of Mrs. Giusy Francavilla, who studied at Giovanna’s and today is a piano teacher at the Giovanni Paisiello Music Conservatory in Taranto a regional piano competition for youngers has been also organized over the years 2003 and 2004.

     Giovanna was the founder of the Association "Soroptmist" in Taranto and the competition had therefore her name Giovanna Sottomano Albano .