Born in Philadelphia, PA, 22 September 1922; Died in Philadelphia, 8 January 2002
Romeo Cascarino first became inspired by music as a young child. A skilled pianist, he began composing as a teenager. He was sixteen when he met Paul Nordoff (1909-1977), a faculty member at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. The older composer exclaimed to his colleagues, "I've discovered a genius!" Nordoff arranged for Cascarino to receive a scholarship to the Conservatory and "taught" the younger composer, supervising his progress but essentially standing back and letting Cascarino' s talent blossom.
Cascarino served as a military musician during World War II and became friends with the bassoonist Sol Schoenbach (1915-1999). Cascarino began sketching a sonata for Schoenbach which he finished after the War. This work has become a standard in the repertoire of American bassoonists. He also composed a delightful piece for unaccompanied bassoon, the Paraphrase on the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Cascarino served on the faculty of Combs College in Philadelphia for many years.
Cascarino composed in a wide variety of media-songs, ballet, orchestral pieces, chamber music works, and his magnum opus, the opera William Penn. He was an individualist who followed no compositional "school" or whatever "ism" happened to be fashionable. He felt that music should be beautiful and that it should communicate with listeners. He did not "push" his music, per se, and most of his catalog remains unpublished.