Born on Beethoven's birthday in 1936, Piero Gamba began his career as a rare child prodigy among conductors and was the subject of a fictionalized Italian dramatic film, La Grande Aurora (1946), in which the nine-year-old conductor rather nervously played himself. This project was undertaken in response to Gamba's debut under the nickname "Pierino Gamba" in 1945 at a public rehearsal, leading the Rome Opera Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Although the film was a popular success, Gamba's career as an adult conductor had a hard time getting off the ground; nonetheless, he toured extensively in the postwar period and made his British debut in 1948. Gamba did earn a reputation for sensitive handling of concerto accompaniments, appearing as conductor on several of pianist Julius Katchen's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Gamba settled in Madrid in 1952 and worked mostly on a journeyman basis until he was appointed music director for the Winnipeg Symphony, a position Gamba held between 1971 and 1980. Gamba was also music director of the Adelaide Symphony from 1982 to 1988. Since about the mid-'90s Gamba has lived in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and appears occasionally with South American orchestras. Piero Gamba has recorded with world-renowned artists such as Luciano Pavarotti and Ruggiero Ricci. He is not related to English conductor Rumon Gamba.