The Italian Almanac

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Romano Mussolini

Italian News - February 4

Romano Mussolini, the third and youngest son of Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, died on Friday at the age of 78. An internationally recognized jazz pianist as well as an accomplished painter, Romano Mussolini tried throughout his life to steer clear of politics and devote himself to his art. Although he always remained loyal to his father's memory, he avoided speaking of him publicly until late in life, when he finally published two books of memoirs, one of them called My Father, Il Duce.

His death drew many tributes to his artistic talent, including one from Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. There was also praise for his "moral dignity" and honesty, especially from the rightwing National Alliance party which evolved from the former Fascist party founded by his father. His surname is widely thought to have hindered his career. For a short time in the late 1950s he performed under the name of Romano Full.

Romano and his brother Vittorio learned to love jazz music in their youth despite the fact that their father's nationalistic regime had heavily censored it because it was considered foreign. After the war Romano Mussolini became a leading figure in the Italian jazz scene. His first professional gigs were with Carlo Loffredo in a quartet which recorded a popular version of 'How High the Moon'.

Romano Mussolini's best musical years were during the 1950s and '60s, when together with Italy's leading trumpeter of the time, Nunzio Rotondo, he took part in the Sanremo International Jazz Festival. His musical idol and inspiration was pianist Oscar Peterson and it was thanks to Mussolini that the Canadian musician enjoyed great popularity in Italy.

Romano Mussolini was married to Anna Maria Scicolone, the sister of Italian film star Sophia Loren, and his daughter is the fiery hard-right MP Alessandra Mussolini.