Marco Rizo, Pianist, Arranger. Composer


"I LOVE LUCY. Meet my good friend, Marco Rizo "I know him to be extremely gifted, a musical perfectionist, he enriched our lives with his masterful compositions of Cuban music, as well as being a helluva sweet guy." Desi Arnaz 1953.


Vilma rizo tells gilda miros about the life & brilliant career of her  iconic brother marco rizo, who was a  pianist, composer and arranger for the i love lucy show orchestra. And also best friends with desi arnaz, since their childhood in cuba/from late in icons past & tv show present

Jorge Pupo hosts 'Entre Amigos - Among Friends.'

Pupo converses with Maestro Marco Rizo, arranger and composer of the 'I Love Lucy Theme.'


Jorge Pupo chats with Maestro Marco Rizo at his home in New York City. Rizo and his childhood friend, Desi Arnaz meet up in Hollywood and Marco composes the 'I Love Lucy' theme, often appearing on the show and always behind the piano at Ricky's 'Tropicana Club.' Marco Rizo and his Orquestra, featuring Candido Camero, perform in Battery Park City.


Marco explains his 'South American Music Project.'


Produced by Jorge Pupo and Roland Millman.

All clips used with permission.

Show intro music arranged as courtesy of Germán Pifferrer.


The Danza "Tributo A Rafael Hernandez" written by Marco Rizo. Marco Rizo (1920 September 8, 1998) was a Cuban-born pianist, composer, and arranger. He is best known for his role as pianist and orchestrator for the American TV series I Love Lucy show. He recorded nearly 30 albums throughout his career which combined the techniques of his classical training with Afro-Cuban and jazz rhythms.Rizos father, Sebastian, a flutist with the Santiago Symphony Orchestra, served as his sons first musical instructor. In 1932, Marco moved to Havana to attend the National Conservatory of Music, where he studied under the tutelage of Spanish composer Pedro San Juan. He remained there for six years, and in 1938 was named the official pianist of the Havana Philharmonic. In 1939, he performed duo piano recitals with Ernesto Lecuona. In 1940, he migrated to the United States, having received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. There, he studied under Rosina Lhevinne. He also performed and orchestrated with the 2nd Army Military Band during World War II.After the war, his childhood friend Desi Arnaz asked Rizo to join him as the pianist and orchestrator for his band, the Desi Arnaz Orchestra. He toured the U.S. with the band until 1950. When Arnaz started production of I Love Lucy, he once again turned to Rizo, hiring him to be the pianist and orchestrator for the show between 1951 and 1957. Rizo also made several on-camera

appearances on the show throughout its run on television. After the I Love Lucy show ended, he remained with CBS and was the pianist-arranger for the Bob Hope Radio Show. While in Los Angeles, he attended UCLA and studied under Stravinsky and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He composed motion picture music for Columbia, Paramount and MGM Studios. He continued his concert career in 1960, playing the music of Lecuona and other Cubans. In the early 1970s, Rizo worked as the musical director for the Royal Viking Sea cruise ship. Throughout his career, he arranged for hundreds of top artists: Carmen Miranda, Danny Kaye, Xavier Cugat, Yma Sumac, and Paquito DRivera, among many others. Some of his most memorable piano and orchestral compositions include Suite Campesina, Ñañigo, Danzas Cubanas, Jose Marti-Sinfonia Cubana, Broadway Concerto, Suite of the Americas, Suite Española, and Visions of New York.In the early 1980s, he founded the non-profit organization The Marco Rizo Latin American Music Project (SAMPI), which aimed to spread appreciation for Latin music and culture to students in universities, colleges, high schools, and public schools. In 1989, he won the Silver Medal of the French Academy of the Arts, Sciences and Letters. He died of a heart attack in 1998 at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center. His sister, Vilma Rizo, donated many of his papers, files, and compositions to the Music Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Among the various items in the collection is an unpublished biography that Rizo wrote of his longtime friend Desi Arnaz entitled The Desi I Knew (1991).

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