Alberto Semprini

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Alberto Fernando Riccardo Semprini (27 March 1908 – 19 January 1990) known by his stage name Semprini, was an English pianist, composer and conductor, known for his appearances on the BBC, mainly on radio.[1]

Alberto Semprini
Alberto Semprini in 1954
Alberto Semprini in 1954
Background information
Birth nameAlberto Fernando Riccardo Semprini
Born(1908-03-27)27 March 1908
Bath, Somerset, England
Died19 January 1990(1990-01-19) (aged 81)
Brixham, Devon, England
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, conductor


Born in Bath, Somerset, England, of Italian ancestry, Semprini showed early talent for both the piano and cello. He graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 1928, having studied composition and conducting as well as honing his skills at the piano. In Italy he performed a broad range of music, from pop to jazz and classical, and in 1938 led his first radio orchestra in Italy. In the late 1950s he also featured regularly at the Sanremo Music Festival.

Back in the UK, he hosted a light music programme, Semprini Serenade, which he introduced with the words: "Old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones". The program first aired on BBC Radio in 1957 and continued for around 25 years.[2] Although his 'house band' was the New Abbey Light Symphony Orchestra on his commercial records, on radio he was always accompanied by one of the BBC's own staff orchestras – initially the BBC Revue Orchestra.

Semprini also wrote a number of original light music compositions, including Concerto Appassionato and Mediterranean Concerto, which he used as the theme tune for his radio show.


Semprini was a prolific recording artist. His work was first released on the Italian label Fonit Cetra, then EMI Records, where he remained for the rest of his professional career. Although strongly associated with light music, his recordings were principally of well-known classical music, including the Grieg Piano Concerto and solo pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Debussy.[3]

In 2015 Vocalion Records released a CD of his late 1950s broadcasts with the BBC Revue Orchestra, most of which had not been heard since their first broadcast.

Popular referenceEdit

In the Monty Python's Flying Circus segment known as "The Chemist Sketch", the BBC interrupted the show to ban a number of "naughty" words, including "b*m", "b*tty", "kn*ckers", "kn*ckers", "p*x" and "w**-w**".[4] The final prohibited word, a puzzling and random addition to the list, was "Semprini". Immediately when the action resumed, the chemist (John Cleese) asked, "Who's got a boil on his Semprini, then?" and was quickly taken away by a policeman (Graham Chapman). For the rest of the episode, anyone saying "Semprini" was similarly arrested.[5]


  1. ^ "Semprini, (Fernando Riccardo) Alberto". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40662. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Music Programmes: Semprini Serenade". Radio Days. Whirligig. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  3. ^ "Alberto Semprini". Discogs. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Monty Python Semprini Sketch". YouTube. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Chemist Sketch/Words Not to be Used Again". 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

External linksEdit