Lebanon is a nation where the paths between Asia, Europe, and Africa intersect. Due to its geography, beauty, and its historic abundance of various ethnicities within it, it has been a haven for its own children, travellers, minorities, explorers, artists and traders for thousands of years. As a result, it has a very rich history. Although its feet have been currently muddied in the mess of power, politics and ill intent, its history and spirit remain strong and vibrant. In contemporary Lebanese life, memories of Lebanon from its so-called ‘Golden Age’ – the time between its independence in 1948 and the beginning of the Civil War in 1975 – are often cherished. The economy was flourishing, and tourists from all over the world were visiting the country. Food was delicious and cheap, the climate pleasant, generosity and goodness were in abundance. It was a bustling cultural hub which hosted many artists, including jazz musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, who wrote a piece called ‘Mount Harissa’ in ode to the shrine located there.
Within its national history, lie a colossus of experiences and stories. This article deals with the story of an Italian Maestro who lived in Lebanon during this era.
Reddy Bobbio is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor who has written over one thousand songs. His early career comprised with playing shows with his band in France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Beirut, and Tehran.
Reddy Bobbio (Top Left) and His Band, c.1960s
He arrived to Lebanon in the 1960s. In this time, he collaborated with the Lebanese-Armenian community which was a cultural powerhouse in its own right. He arranged and orchestrated music for Adiss Harmandyan’s in ‘Live At The Recital Phoenicia Theatre’, and released an album with his orchestra titled, ‘Holiday In Yerevan’, interpreting Armenian folk songs. In this period, he released his own albums such as ‘Reddy Bobbio And His Multi-Sound Organ’.
Reddy Bobbio (Far Left) with Daniel Der Sahakian and Adiss Harmandyan, alongside an Adiss album cover – Late 1960s
A few years later, Bobbio returned to Italy and began a long and productive musical relationship with Italian saxophonist, Fausto Papetti. He arranged many of Papetti’s albums in the 1970s, 80s, and 1990s as well as composing music with him such as the track, ‘Montenapo’ on the 32ª Raccolta in 1981.
Prior to the Lebanese civil war, copies of Papetti’s easy listening records were immensely popular in Lebanon and would be found in many record cabinets in throughout the country. Bobbio also worked with notable Italian musicians Gigi Proietti, Claudio Villa, and Fred Bongusto among others.
Reddy Bobbio (Left) and Fausto Papetti- c.1980s
In the 1980s and 1990s, he released many solo albums as well as with his orchestra, such as ‘Only You’, ‘Rarefaction’, ‘To Remember’ and instrumental piano albums.
Reddy Bobbio Trio
(Photo: DANIELA BORGHI for www.lastampa.it)
In his eighth decade of music, he is still as active as ever. He is the Vice-President of the Festival di Sanremo Symphony Orchestra and heads the Reddy Bobbio Swing Trio where he is accompanied by Mauro Parrinello on double bass, and Fausto Biamonti on drums. This formation recreates the atmosphere and extroverted spirit of the swing era underlining “the smiling side of jazz” whose repertoire is made up of the great masterpieces of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington. In that case, perhaps his trio might create their own rendition of ‘Mount Harissa’ seeing as Bobbio himself has surely been there.
By: RH, RB
Pianist, Composer, Arranger and Conductor.
He Wrote 1,300 Songs, Deposited To The S. I. A. E.
These Are Some Interpreters Of His Musical Compositions : Claudio Villa, Fausto Papetti, Nilla Pizzi, Carla Boni, Gino Latilla, Enrico Musiani, Giorgio Consolini, Johnny Sax, Josè Maria Villaroia, (Spagna), Josè Bacchelli (Gold Record In Uruguay).
He Wrote The Piano Book “Studio E Divertimento” (Edizioni Mediolanum – Carish).
A Drums And Rhythms’ Study “La Guide Du Rythhme” (Edizioni Chappel – Paris)
Chamber Music (Edizioni Chiola Music Press Brussels, New York)
Sacred Music For Organ (Edizioni Carrara)
A Concert Mass For Choire, Soprano, Baritone And String Orchestra Dedicated To “PADRE PIO”
He Wrote Chamber Music Performed By Chamber Quintet “THE PRELADIUM”
Song For Band (Edizione Scomegna ) “Soggiorno Viennese” Tipical Walzer Of Vienna
Song Dedicated To Papa Giovanni Paolo II “SANTO SUBITO” Carla Gelmini’s Lyrics And Voice.
As Arranger and Orchestra Conductor:
Arrangements made for Fausto Papetti ( n. 38 LP and CD)
Fred Bongusto (L.P “Paradiso Perduto” containing the song “SCUSA” participant in the 1989 edition of Sanremo Festival )
Claudio Villa (n. 1 LP e CD) his personal pianist and conductor of orchestra, during the tour in Japan in the best theatres of Tokyo, Osaka etc.
Adiss Harmandyan (popular Armenia’ singer, n.2 LP one of these “HOLIDAY in EREVAN”)
Aref: Popular Iranian singer ( n. 1 LP )
International Malta’s Festival (he won the second prize representing Italy)
He created the “Swing Orchestra” a Big band of 14 musicians and realized a CD.
After this experience, he created an orchestra of 7 musicians again: “The Glenn Miller story”, remembering in the concerts the beautiful Gleen Miller’ successes.
Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo: arranger, conductor of orchestra and pianist in the concerts:
Musiche da film, Tribute to Fausto Pappetti, Souvenir dell’Operetta.
n. 13 audiocassettes ( piano ) n. 4 CD ( Piano )
CD “Historicals voices and songs of Sanremo’s Festival” (three CD on the occasion of THE COLOMBIALI) editions RICORDI
CD for RAI TELEVISION “Mistero e Magia” ediz. Fonit Cetra
CD “Italia” for Digimusic records with tenore GIOVANNI GURNARI (for Spanish and South American market)
CD “Christmas night” (Christmas songs) lyrics and voice of CARLA GELMINI
CD “Tribute to Elvis” for Costa Azzurra records
CD “Souvenir” dedicated to Lake of Como lyrics and voice of CARLA GELMINI
N. 5 Accordion’s audiocassettes “Rede’ di Pigna” a tribute to his grandfather.
Official pianist of “DOPO FESTIVAL” RAI 1 – 47.ma edition Sanremo’s festival with Bruno Vespa, Valeria Marini, Luciano Pavarotti
1986 “GRAN GALA ‘ DELLA TELEVISIONE ITALIANA” RAI 1 (Gigi Proietti Personal pianist)
1995 Telemontecarlo Italia “NON HO MAI PERSO LA BUSSOLA” with Gianni Mina ‘
Spanish National television (conductor of orchestra)
ZDF German National Television “SONNTAGS KONZERT EUROPA”
Lebanese National Television
Iranian National Television