Franco Battiato

Franco Battiato

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Franco Battiato

Img_capt =
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Background = solo_singer
Birth_name =
Born = Birth date and age|1945|3|23|mf=y
Origin = Riposto, Sicily, Italy
Occupation = Musician, filmmaker, painter
Genre = Easy listening, experimental, pop, classical, progressive rock, opera
Years_active = 1965–present
Label = Ricordi
Sony Music
Instrument = Vocals, piano, guitar
Associated_acts = Alice, Juri Camisasca, Giuni Russo, Milva
URL = []

Franco Battiato (born March 23, 1945) is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and (as Süphan Barzani) painter.

He is considered one of the most original personalities in Italian music from the 1970s to now. Together with Alice, Franco Battiato represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 1984 with the melody "I treni di Tozeur". Battiato's songs are dreamy, controversial collages of images and sensations, very experimental and convoluted, rich of esoteric, philosophical and East Asian religious themes.

His collaborations (from 1994 onward) with the nihilistic-cynical philosopher Manlio Sgalambro have added further depth to his apparently nonsensical lyrics, with references to Emil Cioran, Friedrich Nietzsche and other anarchistic and problematic thinkers.


Early years and experimental period

Francesco Battiato was born in Jonia di Riposto, in the province of Catania (Sicily).

At the age of 20 he moved to Milan and in 1968 he obtained the first musical contract. He scored some success with the romantic song "È l'amore". After further covers of pop songs, he met the experimental musician Juri Camisasca in 1970 and collaborated with Osage Tribe, an Italian psychedelic-progressive rock band. As a solo artist, he released the science-fiction single "La convenzione" ("The convention"), one of the finest Italian progressive rock songs of the 1970s.

Starting from 1971, Battiato devoted much of his efforts to experimental electronic music, producing a series of LPs that remained almost unknown at the time, but are now eagerly sought by collectors worldwide. Starting out with electronic progressive rock with some emphasis on vocals, his music became increasingly experimental, gradually moving into the realms of musique concrète and minimalism: "Fetus" (1971, whose cover was censored), "Pollution" (1972), "Sulle Corde di Aries" (1973), "Clic" (1974) and "M.lle Le Gladiator" (1975). "Clic" is a haunting yet largely conventional exploration in the eletronic style reminiscent of Phillip Glass and even German experimental rock band Can.

In 1975, he moved to the Dischi Ricordi label, producing "Battiato" (1975), "Juke Box" (1976) and the experimental "L'Egitto prima delle sabbie" ("Egypt Before the Sands", 1977), which won the Stockhausen award for contemporary music.

National success

After having been fired by Ricordi, Battiato signed a contract for EMI. Largely, though not wholly, abandoning the experiments of the early years, he moved to a more pop-oriented style which afforded him ever increasing popularity with Italian audiences. In this period his albums were usually in collaboration with the renowned musician and violinist Giusto Pio, whose two later albums were produced by Battiato.

After "L'era del cinghiale bianco" ("The Era of the White Boar") 1979 and "Patriots" (1980), Battiato obtained astounding success with "La voce del padrone" ("The Master's Voice") in 1981, which was the first Italian LP to sell more than one million copies. The commercial success was confirmed by "L'arca di Noè" ("Noah's Ark") in 1982. Songs like "L'era del cinghiale bianco", "Prospettiva Nevskij" ("Nevsky Prospekt"), "Centro di gravità permanente" ("Constant Centre of Gravity"), "Bandiera bianca" ("White Flag"), "Voglio vederti danzare" ("I Want to See You Dancing" ), with their original mix of Oriental and philosophical fashions with pop rhythms, established Battiato's status as one of the most capable and intelligent musicians in Italy. Many of the songs of this era contained parts in English and, most of all, Arab, a language that Battiato had started to study after a trip to Turkey. Battiato's albums were also published in Spanish and English versions.

"Orizzonti perduti" ("Lost Horizons") 1983, which Battiato himself called "a kipper", was followed by the successful "Mondi lontanissimi" ("Most Distant Worlds", 1985), which featured a solo version of the popular "I treni di Tozeur" ("The Trains of Tozeur), originally a duet with Alice performed at the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest, the science-fiction/metaphysical "Via Lattea" ("Milky Way") and "No Time No Space".

More than 300,000 copies of 1988's "Fisiognomica" (Physiognomic) sold, confirmed Battiato's status. It contained the song "Nomadi" ("Nomads"), written by his old friend Camisasca, who in the meantime had retired to a Franciscan convent. One of the songs on the album was performed by director/actor Nanni Moretti in his 1989 movie "Palombella Rossa".

"Come un cammello su una grondaia" ("Like a Camel in a Gutter") 1991, was divided into two parts, the second made up by classical German lieder. Among the pop songs, "Povera patria" ("My Poor Father Land"), a poetical denouncement of Italy's lack of culture and honesty, became a kind of hymn of the civil society rebelling against the mafioso attempts of the following year against judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Pio and Battiato also worked as producers for several singers, including Alice and Giuni Russo, and for two of Milva's albums.

Starting from 1987, Battiato also produced several classical operas: "Genesi" (1987), "Gilgamesh" (1992) and "Il Cavaliere dell'Intelletto" (1994). In 1990 he also began to experiment with painting, initially under the pseudonym of Süphan Barzani.

Collaboration with Manlio Sgalambro

In 1994 Battiato began to collaborate with the Sicilian philosopher Manlio Sgalambro, who was to write almost all the lyrics of his following albums.

After the tentative "L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire" of 1995, in 1996 the duo published what is considered their best work so far, "L'imboscata", containing the romantic hit "La cura", elected best Italian song of the year.

"Gommalacca" (1998, with an unusual stress on hard rock), "Ferro battuto" (2000) and "Dieci stratagemmi" (2004) continued on the same path, with variations mainly set by Battiato's unceasing desire for musical experimentation.

In 2003 Battiato released his first feature film, "Perduto amor" ("Lost love"), for which he also composed the soundtrack. The movie won the Silver Ribbon for the best debutant director. However, heavy criticism struck against his following movie, "Musikanten", a rather experimental work about Beethoven's last four years of life. The German musician was played by the Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky.

In 2004 he hosted a cultural show for a satellite channel of RAI, the Italian state network.

Battiato's last LP is "Il vuoto" (2007).


* In 1999 Battiato released a collection of covers of Italian love songs, "Fleurs". He repeated the experiment three years later with an album inexplicably numbered "Fleurs 3", no "Fleurs 2" having been released in the meantime.
* Battiato's cover of The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday," originally released on "Fleurs", is prominently featured in the 2006 film, "Children of Men".



*"La Convenzione" (1971)
*"Fetus" (1971)
*"Pollution" (1972)
*"Sulle corde di Aries" (1973)
*" Clic" (1974)
*"M.lle le "Gladiator" (1975)
*"Feed Back" (1975)
*"Battiato" (1976)
*"Juke Box" (1977)
*"L'Egitto prima delle sabbie" (1978)
*"L'era del cinghiale bianco" (1979)


*"Patriots" (1980)
*"La voce del Padrone" (1981)
*"L'arca di Noè" (1982)
*"Orizzonti perduti" (1983)
*"Mondi lontanissimi" (1985)
*"Echoes of Sufi Dances" (1985, in English)
*"Nomadas" (1987, in Spanish)
*"Fisiognomica" (1988)
*"Giubbe Rosse" (1989, live)


*"Come un cammello in una grondaia" (1991)
*"Caffè de la Paix" (1993)
*"Unprotected" (1994, live)
*"L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire" (1995)
*"Battiato studio collection" (1996, collection)
*"L'imboscata" (1996)
*"Shadow Light" (1996)
*"Battiato Live Collection" (1997, live)
*"Gommalacca" (1998)
*"Fleurs" (1999)


*"Campi magnetici" (2000)
*"Ferro battuto" (2001)
*"Fleurs 3" (2002)
*"Last Summer Dance" (2003, live)
*"Dieci stratagemmi" (2004)
*"Il vuoto" (2007)


*"Genesi" (1987)
*"Gilgamesh" (1992)
*"Messa arcaica" (1994)
*"Il Cavaliere dell'Intelletto" (1994) - not published on CD


* "Perduto amor" (2003, also screenplay)
* "Musikanten" (2005)
* "Niente è come sembra" (2007)

External links

* [ Official website]
* [] BattiatoWeb, unofficial Spanish website
* [ Franco Battiato on] (English)
* [ Franco Battiato discography (Music City)]

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