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General Articles

Remembrance and Nini Rosso

(Sound starts after about 20 seconds)

It's Remembrance weekend and the sound of the Last Post always takes me back. In about 1965 I was a teenager on a camping trip in various parts of Europe. In a youth hostel in Germany the radio endlessly played the current hit parade, at the time topped by an instrumental number featuring a trumpet solo with a strange resemblance to the 'Taps' bugle theme (Last Post). For the last four decades that tune has stayed with me but I never did know what it was called or who it was by.

And then BBC4 Time Shift ran a programme called "The Last of the Liners", a documentary about how the postwar liners gave way to cruise ships. An interesting programme in its own right but I wasn't actually watching the TV when it started; I was in the room next door. What brought me in running was the first few scenes. Behind the presenter's voice was that trumpet piece again, just as I remembered it, and a rush of old memories and impressions came flooding back. I stayed to watch the rest of the programme in the faint hope they might repeat the tune, but no, it was just that one scene.

I wasn't going to give up that easily. With the resources of the World Wide Web at hand I went to the BBC website and started searching for someone I could ask. And after much fruitless hunting I struck gold. The name of the executive producer popped up in someone else's FaceBook blog, and - most importantly - gave his email address at the Beeb. So I wrote to him asking if he would be so kind as to help me identify the piece of music.

Within hours I had a reply from a production coordinator for the series, happy to help provide the answer I was looking for. And then I discovered why my attempts to find a German trumpeter had failed; he was actually an Italian called Nini Rosso, and the number, "Il Silenzio", was a hit in several countries including Italy and Germany. Of course, armed with this information the World Wide Web disgorges as much information as anyone could ask for, such as the video clip above.

It's a strange feeling being able to scratch such an old itch. The oddest thing is I could never have guessed back in 1965 that I would one day choose to live not in my home country, nor the one in which I heard the track but in that of its performer. Was Italy calling me even that far back?

Nerds corner: It may be that the tune, though credited to Rosso, was an embellished version of 'Taps', written by an American Civil War brigadier in 1862 and used in the 1953 film "From Here To Eternity". Many countries use some version of it to signal 'lights out' or at remembrance ceremonies. Whatever the source, Il Silenzio is a haunting sound that moves most who hear it.
Sunday, 13 November 2011    Section: General Articles    Author: Tramontana
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