DECATUR, Ill. - When Aldo Mancinelli was growing up in Steubenville, Ohio, his mornings began at 6:30 with an hour of piano practice, ordered by his father, who was a musician.
Weekends meant more practice. It was four hours Saturday and three more hours on Sunday.
"I don't want to practice; I want to play baseball," Mancinelli remembers pleading with his father.
AROUND THE WORLD — Acclaimed pianist Aldo Mancinelli of Decatur Ill., shows posters and shares stories from his concerts around the world. Mancinelli earned international acclaim by performing nearly 1,000 concerts throughout Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America and, most recently, Tahiti. He also played at Carnegie Hall and LaScala in Milan, Italy.
But his father did not yield. The relentless practice continued, continued.
By the time he was 11 years old, Mancinelli was so accomplished, he played Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia.
Classical piano was to be the life's work for the Decatur man. By Bob Fallstrom. (Decatur) Herald & Review.
He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. He studied with piano masters. He received two Fulbright Scholarships and studied in Rome at the Academia of Santa Cecilia and recognized as the outstanding graduate of 1956.
The honors Mancinelli has accumulated over the years are staggering.
He was the first American to win the Ferruccio Busoni international piano competition in Belzano, Italy.
Mancinelli earned international acclaim by performing nearly 1,000 concerts throughout Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America and, most recently, Tahiti. He also played at Carnegie Hall and LaScala in Milan, Italy.
Wherever he has gone, the audiences and critics have loved him. Newspaper critics have called him "captivating, astounding, convincing."
In Stockholm, he was described as "a pianist with the right kind of love for his music - the love of the soul."
A music professor and artist in residence at Millikin University from 1980 to 1994, Mancinelli is still performing at age 84, although his style has evolved over the years.
He was particularly influenced by studying with Claudio Arrau, a concert pianist, but Mancinelli strives to bring out the faithful intent of the composer.
"Each country's composers have a different style," he said. "My style is the result of my background, my teachers."
He came to Decatur in 1980, after 17 years at the University of Tulsa, where he met his wife. He also was a member of piano faculties at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, the University of Albuquerque and the National Conservatory of Music in Beirut, Lebanon.
Nowadays, when he's not practicing, he writes letters to the editor of the Herald & Review about government affairs and is adept at playing bridge, a cerebral card game, on Mondays and Fridays.
There are two Steinway pianos in the Mancinelli home.
Judith Mancinelli, 64, teaches piano at Millikin and is well-known as a recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician. She and her husband play two-piano concerts and have recorded a CD together containing selections by Mozart, Chopin and Gliere.
"I made my debut at the age of 13 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the University of Tulsa music faculty from 1971 to 1980," she said.
"In recent years, I've had a lot of fun cracking the code, the symbolism, in a lot of music," she said. "Long ago, the musicians liked to project their own personality into the music. Then, in the 20th century, the musicians became more faithful to the composers' music instead of injecting the personality of the player."
Central Illinoisans will have an opportunity to see Aldo Mancinelli showcase his talent in May.