In 1972 Nelo Risi adapted to the cinema, the novel by Alessandro Manzoni “La Colonna Infame”. He not only wrote the script but also directed it. The film is a historical drama set in 1630, in the Italian city of Milan. During the footage is told the story about a health commissioner who is accused by two women of spreading the plague among the people of the city.
Helmut Berger and Vittorio Caprioli formed the protagonist duo, within an international acting cast, in which we found names as famous as Paco Rabal, Lucia Bosé, or the American actor Martin Balsam.
The music for this production, had to have a vital importance in the development of the cinematographic narration, that`s why Risi counted on the services of the composer Giorgio Gaslini.
Born in Milan on October 22, 1929, Gaslini was a composer and piano player, who excelled especially in jazz music that back in the 40s and 50s of the last century it made its way in an Italy dominated by fascism. From an early age he decided on the piano, instrument that he mastered perfectly whith only seven years old. So in the decade of the late 50’s, early 60’s, After finishing his musical studies, he starts trying in another kind of jazz, that was known as “third stream”, with a mix of jazzy sounds and classical music. Even though cinema was not Giorgio’s main occupation, as we have already seen, he composed the scores for some films like “La note”, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (1961), or Le cinque giornate, directed by Dario Argento (1973).
For “La Colonna Infame” he wrote a main theme with some dismal air, very well orchestrated, where the string, in a grievous style, a motive executed by the winds, and the percussion redoubling like in a funeral, presages the mournful or mortuary. This theme will suffer different variations along the film, and will be used as the main leitmotiv. The rest of the score walks between the muted and melancholic music that accompanies the life of the characters in which the oboe is one of the main instruments used for this purpose. Gaslini wrote another important theme for the film, which was used as a second leitmotiv. This one stands out for the beauty of the violin solo, delicate and dramatic, that we can hear in themes like “Aria del destino” or “Aria Lirica”. A symphonic work that differs a lot from Gaslini’s musical postulates, but it is great for the images it accompanies and without any doubt, will delight film music fans with this record edition that recovers the complete music for the first time.