Oct. 11, 1955: Mantovani, superstar British conductor and composer, brought his baton and orchestra to Scranton for a fundraising concert at the Masonic Temple.
Mantovani, known by just his last name, presented a concert filed with well-known compositions, such as Strauss’ “Sweetheart Waltz,” the folk song “Greensleeves” and “Some Enchanted Evening” by Richard Rogers.
The Scranton Times’ concert reviewer said the violin pieces in the show — Monti’s “Csardas,” Binge’s “Scottish Rhapsody,” Verdi’s “Celeste Aida” and Alfven’s “Swedish Rhapsody” — were all performed with gusto and tremendous zest.
“The audience will long remember his visit to Scranton,” the reviewer wrote.
The Catholic Junior League and University of Scranton’s Business Club sponsored the concert to raise money for the university’s scholarship fund.
Mantovani, whose first name was Annunzio, started his career playing the violin in Venice. Later, he conducted the orchestra at Hotel Metropole and worked for the British Broadcasting Corp. Popular in the British Isles, his star rose in the United States when a Cleveland radio jockey played his version of “Charmaine” by Erno Rapee and Lew Pollack in 1951.
According to his New York Times obituary, Mantovani was the first musician in the United States to sell 1 million stereophonic records. Between 1951 and 1966, he released 18 recordings, each selling 500,000 copies for a total of 9 million records sold.
Manotvani died in 1980 at a nursing home in Kent.
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