Born in Rome in 1911, Italian pianist Pietro Scarpini enjoyed an active and fruitful career that spanned nearly seven full decades. He lived and trained in the city of his birth until well into manhood: After learning the fundamentals of piano playing, Scarpini studied first at the Conservatory di Musica Santa Cecilia in Rome, and later received a diploma in music from the University of Rome. Among his teachers were composers Paul Hindemith and Alfredo Casella. He made his professional concert debut in Italy in 1936. World War II interrupted his career (and so many others'), but after its end he steadily built a top-notch career as recitalist, concerto soloist, and teacher -- the later most notably at the Florence and Milan conservatories, but also, for one season (1950), at the Darmstadt summer courses.
Scarpini was something of a contemporary music specialist. He certainly played a great deal of then-modern music -- Hindemith, Dallapiccola, Schoenberg, for starters -- and he played it with passion and authority. However, he spent just as much time building up a repertoire list of the standard German masterworks, focusing on J.S. Bach and Mozart. Scarpini was also a part-time composer, with a Piano Concerto and a Piano Quintet to his credit, both in a very modern style. A deeply private man, Scarpini allowed precious little of his playing to be recorded. A recorded radio broadcast of him performing Ferruccio Busoni's intimidating Piano Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, however, is considered by some to be the finest rendition of the work. During the 1990s, Arbiter Records began putting together a multi-volume release of the available Scarpini recordings. In his later years, Scarpini became so reclusive that the circumstances of his death are not known; he may in fact still be among the living.