Sunday, November 15, 2009

History of the Consentino Family Musicians

Part II

Gildo/Gil Consentino
son of Joseph Consentino and Grace Maglitta

From the above photo we realize how young Gil was when his career began as a musician in the Consentino family. Born 06 October 1919 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, he was the eldest of three children to issue from the marriage of Joseph Consentino and his second wife Grace Maglitta. Before his birth, Gil already had a great deal of music talent in his background he could draw from. Not only was his father Joseph a very talented musician before his family even left Italy for America but his mother Grace also came from a line of musicians. She played the mandolin. Her siblings were all musicians in their own right.

Here is what Joe and Grace's daughter Dorothy shared with me: "Mom used to play with her sisters and brothers when she was growing up. her youngest sister played piano and her brother Al played trumpet. They were a musical family long before she met my father. "

Gil married Blanche LaRosa on 22 August 1938 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Along with his brothers Frank (Frankie Kahn) and Albert he worked at his father Joseph's music store and studios as did his two brothers.

Gil Consentino

Around 1945-46, Gil and his wife moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. An accomplished musician (piano and accordion were his main instruments though all Joe's sons played a variety of instruments) Gil was soon playing with prominent bands and these bands played only for high society
and the wealthy. His sister says some of the people and/or organizations they played for were Kimberly Clark (Kleenex fame), Morton Downey, Sr. at his home in West Palm Beach when he hosted parties; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor at their home in North Carolina; the famous Breakers in Palm Beach; Estee Lauder's home; the Mar-a-Lago that was the former Marjorie Merriweather Post estate (daughter of Post Cereal fame) now owned by Donald Trump.

One evening at the Downey home, at two o'clock in the morning, Mrs. Downey asked Gil if he could play for another hour. He agreed and before he knew it someone was coming down the staircase - when Gil looked up it was none other than Frank Sinatra. Frank was sleeping in the house but Gil had been unaware of it. Of course the purpose of his appearance was to ask Gil to "keep it down" so he could sleep.

They also played many charity balls in Palm Beach as well as victory parties in Newport, Rhode Island for the U.S. hosted yacht races. Neal Smith's Orchestra that Gil played with opened shows starring Mitzi Gaynor, Victor Borge, Tim Conway and many others. These may well have been the charity balls according to Dorothy.

When Gil's father Joseph passed away in 1959, his brother Al who was now running the music store and studios phoned Gil to ask him to return to Lawrence to help him run the business. By now their brother Frank (Frankie Kahn) had passed away and had long before left the business to open his own music store and studios (Metro Music in Lawrence, Ma). Gil and his wife sold their home in West Palm Beach and returned to Lawrence. Gil missed Florida and the work he was doing there so after five years he asked his cousin Anthony Consentino if he would buy his share of the business so he could return to Florida. They sealed the deal and he and Blanche soon left Lawrence for a life they much preferred.

Gil and Blanche had no children. Blanche passed away 21 July 1992 in Palm Beach, Florida and Gil passed 16 May 2000 in Palm Beach.

Meanwhile Gil's brother Albert and his cousin Anth0ny Consentino continued on with the Consentino Music Store and Studios. Al retired in 1982 and Anthony continued as sole proprietor until 1992.

Albert A. Consentino
circa 1960s

Al was also an excellent musician. He learned and taught piano, accordion and trumpet. He played in local bands most of his life - the music store was really his life. Many children are indebted to him for having taught so many of them over the years. He was much loved by his students and all who knew him. Al passed away in 2003.

Joseph Consentino saw to it that all his children could play an instrument giving them the opportunity to pursue a career in music if they so chose just as he had. His daughter Dorothy took piano as a child and though she loves music she was really not interested in pursuing a career in music as had her brothers.

Tomorrow: Part III - Lucius Consentino and his son Frank Consentino. Lucius was the second son of Francesco Consentino and Liboria Virgilio and brother of Joseph Consentino documented in Parts I & II.

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Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French-Canadian Ancestral Home

No part of this family history may be copied
or posted anywhere without permission.


consensa said...

Fantastic! Can't wait for Part III. :)

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you! Your feedback is greatly appreciated ;o)

James V. Roy said...

That's a very interesting history. Thanks for sharing it. I studied guitar and bought instruments at both Metro Music on Common St. and Consentino's on Newbury St. in the late 60s.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Hi James.. Consentino Music and Meto - those were the music stores. I bought instruments at both before I got to know my husband Tony.