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Mario Casalini

Mario Casalini was born in Florence in 1926. The only child of art-loving parents, he grew up with them in a very cultured home and was educated both at home and at schools in the city. He spoke four languages fluently, was an avid reader and loved and had a profound knowledge of all aspects of the arts and the humanities.

Although he first worked with his father, a master printer, in his printing company, Tipografia Carnesecchi, Mario Casalini was drawn instinctively to books and publishing. So determined was he, as a young man, to enter the Florentine publishing house La Nuova Italia that he even took out a personal loan to raise the necessary capital to join as a very junior director. He succeeded, against quite high odds, and was connected with the direction of the company for many years, representing it all over the world and eventually becoming its president. He was also vice-president of the Italian Publishers' Association.

When he finally retired it was with the aim of being ever more present in the growing family business, Casalini Libri, which he had founded in the late 1950s. In recent years he was more and more closely involved in its running and travelled widely, almost until his death, to visit the libraries which use Casalini's bibliographical records and acquire their Italian books through the company. Through these contacts over the years he made many true and cherished friends.

A man of many interests, he was a connoisseur of classical and chamber music and was involved in the management of a number of associations for music lovers in Florence and in the organization of their concerts and cultural events. He was a founding member of Musicus Concentus and directed the Associazione Amici della Musica di Firenze. While Musicus Concentus is now more closely involved with jazz than with classical music, the Associazione Amici della Musica still, today, promotes some of the most important programmes of chamber music in the city. Mario Casalini was also instrumental in founding the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, now considered one of the most prestigious music schools in Italy.

The environment also came high on his list. He was a firm believer in protecting nature and its resources in all possible ways and was an active member of two important Italian environmental associations, Italia Nostra and Firenze Viva.

Nor did his love of publishing ever leave him. A few years ago he also took over a small but prestigious publishing house, Cadmo, of which he was very proud. It produces a limited number of titles each year, but all of them are academic.

Unpretentious and essentially a family man, he died at his home, "La Torrossa" on the hillside near Fiesole, where he had lived since he was a small boy, first with his parents and later with his wife Gerda and his three children. The family company, now run by his daughter Barbara and son Michele is also based nearby.

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