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Mantovani was a cornerstone of the easy listening business for over 30 years. His father was the principal violinist at La Scala under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Moving with his family to England in 1912, Mantovani eventually studied music at Trinity College and, after graduation, formed his own orchestra, starting out in theaters in and around Birmingham. By the the start of World War Two, Mantovani's was among the most popular groups on the BBC and the theater circuit. Mantovani served as musical director for a number of long-forgotten British musicals and plays, inlcuding several by Noel Coward.
After the war, he began to focus on recording, and eventually abandoned live performances entirely. Working primarily with arranger Ronnie Binge, he developed a big cascading string sound that as featured on his first big hit, "Charmaine," in 1951. Mantovani spent hours working in the studio with microphone placements and other techniques to perfect the lush feeling and dramatic effects.
Mantovani recorded on Decca through the mid-1950s, when he switched to London, for who he cranked out over 50 albums, many of them charting in the Top 40. He also had a string of best-selling singles with such space age pop staples as "The Song from Moulin Rouge," "Swedish Rhapsody," and "Exodus." He is reputed to have been the first act in the music business to sell over one million stereo recordings, and as a quick look at most thrift store music sections will tell you, he pushed out an incredible volume of product. His album of music from Exodus stayed in the Top 40 for the better part of a year in 1961, and the same year, London bundled 5 of his albums together in a special promotional deal and together they all reached "Gold Record" status. Virtually all of Mantovani's music is unexceptional and uninteresting, however, regardless of the enticiveness of the tunes covered.
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