When Mantovani retired in 1975 he had become a household name in the field of popular entertainment, heard by tens of thousands when he took his orchestra on tour (15 consecutive years just in the United States) and by millions around the world via his recordings. Over the course of a lengthy career — he became popular during the forties conducting a small hotel orchestra — Mantovani amassed a vast music library not only of arrangements prepared for concerts and recordings, but of original material as well. Late in 1981, one year following his death, at the urging of a family friend, the Mantovani children, Ken and Paula, made the library available to symphony orchestras for their pops series; shortly thereafter, successful events were presented by the Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Kansas City Philharmonic and Hamilton Philharmonic.

The next step was inevitable: why not form an orchestra? At about this time there emerged another party with the same idea. A former bassoonist with Mantovani’s U.S. touring orchestra (later becoming its tour director) John Giattino submitted a plan for such an eventuality. The idea was considered, an investment made and in 1983 a modest tour was arranged, sending an orchestra of 32 musicians on the road in a second-hand bus.

Predictably enough the tour was artistically successful; however, there were other problems. It appeared infeasible that so large a group could become economically viable. If the big bands were struggling with a payroll for 18, how could an orchestra of 30-plus succeed? The agency which arranged the original tours in the sixties declined to undertake the task without the presence of the orchestra’s founder. A New York agency handling the affairs of the touring Big Bands also rejected the idea. Advice was: use a synthesizer, cut your losses, quit. But no one quit.

Today you will find 41 performers on stage in a variety of programs, musicians dressed as Mantovani wished them to be — formally, in white tie and tails; an orchestra that has toured steadily: 12 weeks in 1986, 20 in 1987, eight weeks in 1988, and 13 in 1989; an orchestra that has toured in Japan four times, Taiwan twice, Korea twice and is scheduled to tour in Australia, New Zealand and Europe; an orchestra that plays to young audiences, but is partial to senior audiences — those for whom Mantovani’s romantic music stirs memories of courtship days, who, like Ginny Brose, wrote recently, “Do you know that Mantovani’s music always moves Frank to hold my hand!”

The Mantovani Orchestra today is not a success story because it resolved its financial difficulties; it has prevailed because it hasn’t broken faith with its founder. Mantovani’s spur was never a matter of money so much as it was a matter of music. He measured success by how well and effectively he could reach out to move ordinary people and touch their lives with music. Today’s Mantovani Orchestra knows no less a reason for its success.