Nicola Piovani to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at WSA2023

Nicolo Piovani 2
News 02 Mar 2023
At the 23rd edition of the World Soundtrack Awards - Film Fest Gent's annual film music awards - Italian composer Nicola Piovani will be awarded for his contribution to film music. The World Soundtrack Academy honours Piovani, best known to us for his Oscar-winning music for La vita è bella, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The World Soundtrack Awards will be presented at the conclusion of Film Fest Gent 2023 during a ceremony and concert on Saturday 21 October.
Piovani optreden 2© Andrea Giovalè

Film Fest Gent is honoured to present Nicola Piovani with a WSA Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be one of the guests during the WSA musical ceremony together with Eiko Ishibashi. Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Dirk Brossé, will a.o. perform live music by these two composers. This year's World Soundtrack Awards will take place on Saturday 21 October in the concert hall at Capitole Ghent.

Nicola Piovani is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as Ennio Morricone. Not only because there was long confusion about Piovani - due to a poor English translation of an interview, people suspected that "Piovani" was a pseudonym for Morricone - but also because both are monuments of Italian film music. Nicola Piovani was born in Rome in 1946 and became a renowned pianist, conductor and composer of music for film, theatre and ballet alike. He learned piano at the iconic G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan and later studied orchestration under the tutelage of Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. At the age of 16, he discovered cinema as an art form when he happened to see Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. He wrote his very first soundtrack for a documentary about the student movement, directed by Silvano Agosti and shot by philosophy students, in 1968. Piovani's feature film debut came thanks to the same Agosti when the latter asked him to write a score for N.P. il segreto (1971). That the film quite coincidentally bore his initials as its title, he has always considered a "lucky charm".

After N.P., Piovani built an impressive career. He wrote music for more than 200 films and series, and still alternates this with composing for his other great love: theatre. Piovani refuses to limit himself to one form of music. In the world of musical comedy, he has written The Seven Kings of Rome for the Sistina Theatre in Rome, as well as Concha Bonita with libretto by René de Ceccatty, directed by Alfredo Arias, for the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. In the musical theatre world, Piovani has composed numerous works including La Pietà - Stabat mater, Viaggi di Ulisse, and Cantata del fiore e del buffo. Additionally, he has composed concert music such as Cyberknife for Brussels Clarinet Festival and Reflex, a suite for two pianos written for Katia and Marielle Labèque. In the opera genre, he conducted Amorosa Presenza at the Giuseppe Verdi Theatre in Trieste.

Piovani FFG2003
Piovani during closing night at Film Festival Gent 2003

He worked with important Italian directors including Marco Bellocchio, Mario Monicelli, the Taviani brothers, Nanni Moretti, Nanni Loy, Giuseppe Tornatore and Roberto Benigni. After Nino Rota's death in 1979, Piovani became Federico Fellini's regular composer. He provided the scores for Fellini's last three feature films: Ginger e Fred (1986), Intervista (1987) and La voce della luna (1990). He broke through Italian borders by writing music for films by filmmakers such as Bigas Luna (Jamón, Jamón), Ben Verbong (The Girl with the Red Hair), Belgium's Jean-Jacques Andrien (Australia), John Irvin (A Month by the Lake), Dušan Makavejev (Manifesto), Danièle Thompson (Fauteuils d'orchestre) and Xavier Durringer (La conquête). In the theatre world, he wrote music for plays written by authors such as Shakespeare, Molière, Pasolini, Erdman, Chekhov, De Filippo... Piovani's versatility also shows in composing songs for Fabrizio De André and Roberto Benigni and ballet pieces such as Balletto Fellini, a tribute to the filmmaker.

One of the biggest awards for his work came in 1999, when his music for Roberto Benigni's classic La vita è bella won him the Oscar for Best Music and he was nominated for a Grammy. Piovani also won three David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars), three Italian Golden Globes and was nominated twice for a César for Best Music. In 2001, Piovani was bestowed 'Commendatore OMRI' by the Italian Republic President and in 2008, he was appointed 'Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres' by the French Minister of Culture.

Nicola Piovani has been a guest at Film Fest Gent before. In 2003, together with the famous Orchestra Aracoeli, he presented his Concerto Fotogramma, a reinterpretation of his music for films such as La vita è bella, La stanza del figlio and Pinocchio. More recently, Piovani provided the music for Marco Bellocchio's mafia drama Il traditore, Gabriele Muccino's popular Gli anni più belli and Leonora addio, Paolo Taviani's new film that competed for the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in February 2022.

Ishibashi FFG202© Bas Bogaerts

Eiko Ishibashi returns as winner of the 2022 Discovery of the Year Award

Eiko Ishibashi is also one of the guests at this year's World Soundtrack Awards. She won the 2022 Discovery of the Year Award for her mesmerising jazzy score in the film Drive My Car (2021), directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Ishibashi is a multi-instrumentalist with a diverse body of work, including acclaimed singer-songwriter albums, improvised music and scores for film, television, theatre and exhibitions. She made her debut as a film composer in 2016 with the score for Albino's Tree, which won the Best Music Award at the Cinalfama Lisbon International Film Awards. Her score in Drive My Car was later made into an album, incorporating sound effects from the film, garnering international attention. Her music will also be heard at this year's World Soundtrack Awards.

"It was a great honour to be invited to the World Soundtrack Awards last year and to receive an award, but more than that, meeting people from all over the world who work on soundtracks became a precious experience for me. I’m going to take part in the award ceremony this year and I’m really looking forward to it."
Eiko Ishibashi