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A precocious teen, Castelnuevo studied at the Florence Conservatory, earning diplomas in piano and composition. An association with Casella helped him to early fame, enabling him to live in Florence as a freelance composer and pianist. A Jew, Castelnuevo was forced to flee to the USA in 1939 where he took American citizenship and pursued a career in film composition. He was a very prolific composer, creating works of a wide range of quality. His early songs and piano pieces were his finest work, most notably his settings of 33 Shakespeare Songs. He also wrote operas, concertos and a large number of works for guitar. ~ Lynn Vought, Rovi