We remember our father in many different ways, but to mention one, he would jokingly greet us with a military stance as we would enter his realm. He was proud of having been a naval officer. He would wear one of his bright and beautiful neck-scarves and sport a loving smile, as he excitedly awaited a remark from one of us. Usually joy at seeing him so sharp and elegant even after 80. He always liked vivid colours, and the sun which fired up the ancient ruins of the Palatine from his terrace on the Aventino, surrounded by lush vegetation. Freedom and independence were, for him the most important values, and he would always defend these at all costs, be it in public or in private. It was always a festive occasion being with him, be it long or short intervals between our meetings. He would never fail to open a good bottle of wine and provide us with a genuine and tasty lunch. Then we could relax, ask him questions and listen. Since we were very young, we had always considered him to be our encyclopaedia.
He did not talk about music so much but he would always make sure that we had a cassette or cd of his or other peoples’ music to listen to before we said goodbye. He would listen to the radio every morning when he would not be working and he would sometimes ask us to discover various and exotic classical composers.
Amongst his favourites, other than his beloved roots in Jazz, were Alban Berg’s “Lulu”, of which he had seen many performances in Rome as a younger man; Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde’, the instrumental evolutions of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande”, “The Planets”, by Holst. and not forgetting Stravinskij’s “Rite of Spring”, Skriabin, Bartok, Ligeti, Ives and more to mention. With Bortolotto he would agree that modern classical music was born in France with “Les Six”, and he especially liked Honegger. He was always open minded and he would often be enthralled by contemporary cutting edge records that we would play him. As stated previously, he did not speak about music that much, as he had many interests and was always curious. His house was a small library as he enjoyed reading a lot. He never stopped refreshing his memory on Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, philosophers such as Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and the philosophy of science. He had recently re-read Lucretius’ “De Rerum Natura” and had been an avid subscriber of American Scientific magazine.
He would have a lot of fun in trying to explain to us very, very complicated parabolas of physics and science, especially astronomy, and he had even had the “audacity” to write to a renowned Florentine astronomer to ask for ‘further details” on the Big Bang after the discovery of the farthermost quarks and quasars, as he had a penchant for the pulsating theory of the universe.
More than anything, he got a kick out of amazing us and laughing with us. He would cut out the funniest and most paradoxical newspaper articles and read them out to us without glasses as a true actor. He had a weak spot for feminine charm and he would enjoy telling us about his sentimental adventures. He liked football, and used to follow the trials and tribulations of his favourite team, Juventus.
He adored simplicity and he could not bear snobbism or stupidity of sort. He believed that many evils could be resolved by simple common sense. On this note, he would often cite Bertrand Russel, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.
Generous as he was, he could also be humble and did not enjoy being in the public eye.
He would seem taken aback every time he would receive a compliment as if it was his “first time”, maybe also because he had not been classically trained and was completely self-taught.
A year has passed, but the vitality, his sense of humour, his strength of character and integrity accompany us each and every day, and reveal themselves infused with an often dreamy vision in the sweetness of his music.
Valentina and Jason Piccioni