“Scionti’s arrival at the School of Music, University of North Texas in
the early ’40s… ushered in… a golden age… in the musical life in
the area… By the late ’40s his students were beginning to rival those
of the Juillard School’s Rosina Lhevinne in the number of prizes taken
on a national level, and by the early 1950s they were competing
successfully in the international arena… A handsomely produced
biography covering the life and career of the teacher.” —Dallas
Silvio Scionti was a zestful, colorful figure, as well as a master
pianist and teacher. Stories about him, particularly about his more than
ten-year career at the University of North Texas, are legion, and author
Jack Guerry—a former Scionti student—has collected many of them in this
remembrance and biography.
Scionti firmly established his reputation as a compelling pianist, whose
playing has been described as powerful, vital, and full of eloquence,
during his twenty-six years at the American Conservatory in Chicago.
Known especially throughout the United States and Europe for his
duo-piano playing, Scionti’s career flourished when he married Texan
Isabel Laughlin, and the ‘irreproachable and irrepressible Sciontis’
impressed critics wherever they played.
Lured to North Texas in 1942, the Sciontis were instrumental in the
growth of the School of Music to the stature it still claims today.
Scionti’s “buoyant spirit,” enthusiasm, talent, and reputation brought
students to Denton from around the country. Many members of Scionti’s
“student family”—themselves now professionals and teachers—have
contributed their recollections to this volume including tales of
Scionti’s proverbial Italian spaghetti dinners, exhausting hikes up
Mount Etna, and high-speed sight-seeing along Italian mountain lanes
with Scionti at the wheel of his “magnificent red Buick.”
The “indefatigable” Scionti never stopped: When he was seventy and near
the end of his North Texas career, he organized a ten-day tour of five
states for his eight-piano ensemble—taking the eight pianos along and
assembling them at each of the thirteen cities visited. Even through his
“retirement” years, Scionti still was busy teaching and opening
professional doors for students who continued to seek him out.