Born in 1964 in Barletta (Italy), Francesco Lotoro is a pianist, composer and conductor in addition to being a piano professor at the “U. Giordano” Music Conservatory, in Foggia. He obtained his piano diploma at the “N. Piccinni” Music Conservatory in Bari, then continued his piano studies with Kornel Zempleny and Laszlo Almasy at the “F. Liszt” Music Academy in Budapest, and fine-tuned his studies with Viktor Merzhanov, Tamas Vasary and Aldo Ciccolini. As a composer he is the author, inter alia, of the opera Misha e i Lupi (Misha and the wolves) and the Suite Golà for singer and chamber orchestra. He has transcribed various works by Johann Sebastian Bach for 2 pianos: the "Musikalisches Opfer", the "Brandenburg Concerts", the "Deutsche Messe" and the 14 "Canons BWV1087". In addition, he worked on the reconstruction of the "Weihnachtsoratorium" for soloists, choir and piano by Friedrich Nietzsche. He is the author of several volumes of musicology. In 1995 he founded the Musica Judaica Orchestra.
For the past 30 years, he has tirelessly been involved in recovering, studying, revising, archiving, executing, recording and promoting thousands of works of concentrationary music. He has recovered over 8,000 scores – often produced in a condition of deprivation of the most elementary human rights, in concentration, extermination and civil and military imprisonment camps all over the world between 1933 (opening of the KZ Dachau) to 1953 (death of Joseph Stalin and amnesty for Gulag prisoners), that is from the rise of national-socialism to the end of Soviet Stalinism – 12,500 documents of musical production in the Camps (microfilms, diaries, musical notebooks, phonographic recordings, interviews with survivor musicians) and 3,000 university publications, concentrationary music essays and musical essays produced in the Camps.
A unique archive in the world put together travelling and meeting everywhere the authors and holders of these precious testimonies of art imbued with humanity. He is the author – as pianist, organist, conductor – of the Encyclopaedia in 24 CD–volumes KZ Musik (Musikstrasse – ICML), containing 407 works written in civilian and military captivity during the Second World War, and of the Anthology of Concentrationary Music. Currently is working on the edition of the Encyclopaedia Thesaurus Musicae Concentrationariae, a monumental multi-volume work dedicated to music written in concentration camps and to all related composers. This immense artistic and human inheritance which Francesco Lotoro has managed to gather, is at the basis of the Foundation Institute of Concentrationary Musical Literature, established in 2014 by the musician with a small group of other founding members in Barletta, the city in Puglia (Italy) where the Citadel of Concentrationary Music will be created, the largest hub in the world dedicated to the music produced in the Camps; a place where Lotoro’s dream becomes history, artistic, cultural and spiritual treasure for all.
The work carried out until now by Lotoro in the field of concentrationary music has brought widespread interest and recognition at an international level: in 2013 the French Ministry of Culture nominated him Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, which was followed in 2014 by the title Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana conferred by Italian President Sergio Mattarella. In addition, two important editorial works were dedicated to Lotoro and his search: the book “Le Maestro: A la recherche de la musique des camps" by French author Thomas Saintourens (translated in Italy for Piemme publishers and in the Czech Republic for Volvox), and the documentary film Maestro by French-Argentine director Alexandre Valenti, an Italian-French coproduction that aired in 2017 on France 2, France 5, RAI 3, RTVP 2 (Portugal) and in movie theatres all over the world. At present he is involved with the 100 TRIPS project conceived by Donatella Altieri, in search of the last surviving musicians and their works.