Alfredo Casella came from a musical family; born in Lisobon, he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, alongside Enescu and Ravel. While he admired Debussy, his early music shows a more Romantic slant.

During World War I, he began teaching piano at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, achieving fame as a performer with his Trio Italiano from 1930, an foe which he wrote works including a Triple Concerto.

His greatest successes included the ballet La Giara, set to a scenario by Pirandello, and Italia, the Concerto Romano and other concertante works. Casella also made live-recording player piano music rolls for the Aeolian Duo-Art system, all of which survive today and can be heard. In 1923, together with Gabriele D'Annunzio and Gian Francesco Malipiero, he founded an association to promote the spread of modern Italian music, the ‘Corporation of the New Music’.

Casella also had a leading role in resurrecting the works of Vivaldi, again assisted by Malipiero; Casella's work on behalf of his Italian Baroque musical ancestors put him at the centre of the early 20th Century Neoclassical revival in music, and influenced his own compositions profoundly.