Armando Trovajoli (also Trovaioli) was an Italian film composer and pianist with over 300 credits as composer and/or conductor, many of them jazz scores for low-budget exploitation films of the Commedia all'italiana genre. He collaborated with Vittorio De Sica on a number of projects, including one segment of Boccaccio '70. Trovajoli was also the author of several Italian musicals: among them, Rugantino and Aggiungi un posto a tavola.
Trovajoli was born into an upper-middle-class family in Rome. He learned to play the violin as a boy and, in the 1930s, studied piano at the Santa Cecilia conservatory. By 1939 he was playing with a leading jazz band. After the second world war, when Italians were finally able to listen to the latest American music, Trovajoli played with an Italian orchestra at a jazz festival at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, where Miles Davis and Charlie Parker were on the bill. His professional musical activities were eclectic, beginning with performances as a pianist and composer for the radio. After composing music for Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice, 1949) with Goffredo Petrassi, Trovajoli composed for another box-office hit, Alberto Lattuada's Anna (1951), starring Silvana Mangano as the eponymous nun. In the film, Anna dances a tango and sings Trovajoli's song El Negro Zumbon, which went
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on to become an international hit in a recording by Amália Rodrigues.
Together with Goffredo Petrassi, Trovajoli composed the score of Giuseppe De Santis' Bitter Rice (1949). In 1951, Trovajoli was invited by Dino De Laurentiis to write music for Anna, a film directed by Alberto Lattuada: particularly the song El Negro Zumbón became an international success: inspired by tropical rhythms, is sung in playback and danced by Silvana Mangano, but actually performed by Flo Sandon's. Since then, Trovajoli wrote soundtracks for directors as Dino Risi (Poveri milionari, Il vedovo, I mostri, Il profeta, Vedo nudo, La moglie del prete, Noi donne siamo fatte cosě, Sessomatto, Profumo di donna, La stanza del vescovo, Giovani e belli), Vittorio De Sica (La ciociara, Ieri, oggi, domani, Matrimonio all'italiana), Ettore Scola (Se permettete parliamo di donne, L'arcidiavolo, Riusciranno i nostri eroi a ritrovare l'amico misteriosamente scomparso in Africa?, Il Commissario Pepe, Dramma della gelosia - Tutti i particolari in cronaca, La piů bella serata della mia vita, C'eravamo tanto amati, Brutti, sporchi e cattivi, Una giornata particolare, Maccheroni, La Famiglia), Luigi Magni (Faustina, Nell'anno del Signore, La Tosca, In nome del Papa Re) and others, for a total of over 300 scores.
He died in Rome at the age of 95 on 28 February 2013. Trovajoli is survived by his second wife, Maria Paola, and their son, Giorgio; and a son, Howard, from his marriage to the actor Pier Angeli, which ended in divorce.