The Music Book of Franco (Ciccio) Cipolla
The government documents give us the rules and regulations, transport movements, roles and responsibilities but it is the personal souvenirs that provide us with a grass roots understanding of life as a prisoner of war.
Nino Cipolla, Ciccio’s son remembers how his father told him he gifted his guitar to his ‘farming’ family. While Ciccio was attached to Q6 PWC Hostel Home Hill, Ciccio along with 52 other POWs were sent to the Atherton Tablelands for the 1945 maize harvest. Ciccio was on the Atherton Tablelands when peace was declared after the dropping of the bombs on Japan. Maybe, the maize farmer was the receiver of the guitar.
There are other stories of banjos, mandolins and gramophones being in the possession of the Italian prisoners of war and many stories about their beautiful singing voices.
Ciccio’s Music Book however offers a unique insight into the music of the day.
Meticulously notated are ‘Valtzer’ ‘Tango Fox Trot’ ‘Rumba’ ‘One Step’ ‘Mazurka’ ‘Valtzer Lento’ and ‘Tango Argentine’. Unexpectedly Ciccio’s music features an interesting mix of Italian folk music, Italian popular music and American Big Band music.
It is easy to ‘dance’ back in time to Ciccio’s music. Fox trot to Violino Tzigano . Enjoy a waltz to The Missouri Waltz and Speranze Perdute. Try a tango to Play to Me Gipsy or rumba to La Paloma. Be taken back to Italy with Non Me Ne Importa Niente and Tra Veglia e Sonno. Travel to America with Begin the Beguine and SouthAmerican Joe.
With thanks to Ciccio Cipolla we have an invaluable personal reference and insight into the life of a POW in Queensland.
On the cover of the music book, Ciccio wrote Home Hill. Ciccio arrived at Q6 PWC Hostel Home Hill in April 1944 and departed in November 1945. He was one of 272 Italian prisoners of war who called the hostel on the banks of the Burdekin River home. Farmer, Kent Fowler from up river Home Hill, remembers his father and uncle talking about the concerts they attended at the POW camp.
A special thank you to Ciccio’s son Nino and grandson Jack for sharing the music and songs of the Italian prisoners of war.
(photo courtesy of Jack Cipolla)
Music has a healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.