Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, known by the mononym Mantovani, was an Anglo-Italian conductor and light orchestra-style entertainer with a cascading strings musical signature. He is more associated with the light orchestra genre than any other entertainer.
Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy and his father was the concertmaster of La Scala orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. His family moved to England in 1912, where he studied at Trinity College of Music in London. After graduation, he formed his own orchestra, which played in and around Birmingham. By the time World War II broke out, his orchestra was one of the most popular in England, both on the BBC and in live performances.
He was also musical director for a large number of musicals and other plays, including ones by Noel Coward. After the war, he concentrated on recording, and eventually gave up live performance altogether. He worked with arranger and composer Ronnie Binge, who developed the “cascading strings” sound. His records were regulars in stores selling hi-fi stereo equipment, as they were produced and arranged for stereo reproduction. In 1952 Binge ceased to arrange for Mantovani, but his distinctive sound remained.
He recorded for Decca until the mid-1950s, and then London Records. He recorded over 50 albums on that label, many of which were top-40 hits. These included Song from Moulin Rouge and Cara Mia, which reached No. 1 in Britain in 1953 and 1954, respectively. The latter was also Mantovani’s first U.S. Top Ten hit.