Monday, September 03, 2007

Holy Priest, Open the (stained glass) window

“Holiness is not for the privileged few (…). The Lord has called us to remind everyone that we can be holy in any walk of life, amidst all noble human endeavors; that holiness is possible.” These words were written on March 24, 1930 by Blessed Josemaria, whose birth centenary was commemorated on January 9, 2002.

"The first red rose has bloomed.
Spring is here, spring is here!
The first swallow has returned
And glides through the clear sky,
Bringing good weather.
Boys and girls in love,
Open the windows to the new sun,
To hope and joy
Spring is here, it's the feast of love!"

These words were words written by Pinchi for the 1956 San Remo song Aprite Le Finestre. (translated from Italian)

Aprite Le Finestre (Pinchi/Virgilio Panzuti) is one of the two* songs representing Italy at the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. Franca Raimondi won the San Remo festival with the song and it was covered by several popular Italian recording artists at the time, like Nilla Pizzi, Claudio Villa, Rino Salviati, Fiorella Bini, Katyna Ranieri, Giacomo Rondinella and Quartetto Cetra.
Nilla Pizzi was the first San Remo winner in 1951 with the song Grazie dei fior an she also won the 2nd edition in 1952 with Vola Colomba .

Aprite Le Finestre was a favorite song of San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, a Spanish catholic priest and founder of Opus Dei. He is known to have stated (in 1957) that he wanted people to sing Aprite Le Finestre when he died. You can read more about his relation to the San Remo song here. The article mentions the song as being by Nilla Pizzi, who of course was not the original singer but probably the most popular artist at the time to record the song.

On this website you can find everything about the priests life from his 'fans' perspective, but it's wasn't all Holy Wine & Roses, and his canonisation in 2002 was controversial. Check his Wiki for more links and details.
Here I will focus on the Eurovision song though, and it only goes to show once again that Eurovision often can be found in very unexpected places.

The first version presented here (links below) is a version that was performed at the centennial of the priests birthday in 2002 by the Coro Dall' Academia Filarmonica Romana.
Then there's the Nilla Pizzi hit version, a chirpy version by Enzo Gallo and a version by Ugo Molinari (see Help Wanted). The Ugo Molinary track is from a good old fashioned 78rpm.
A Spanish version was recorded by Los 5 Latinos from Argentina.

* In 1956 the seven participating countries each had two songs in the competition. The other Italian song was Amami Se Vuoi, which ended 2nd at the San Remo festival. Only the winner (Lys Assia's Refrain for Switzerland) was officially announced but unofficial sources claim Aprite Le Finestre ended 4th.


Special thanks to Bruno

HELP WANTED: Ugo Molinari sang several songs in the 1956 San Remo and even though his music has been released on various formats his songs are very hard to find. I'm looking for his studio recording of Nota Per Nota from the San Remo final of 1956.

-------------------------------Eurovision in unexpected places anno 2007 ??

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