Born in Orzinuovi (Brescia) on the 30th of October 1908, Franco Margola studied violin with Romano Romanini at the Istituto Musicale “Venturi” in Brescia (now Conservatory of Music) where he graduated in 1926. At the same time he studied also solfeggio, harmony and piano with Isidoro Capitanio. He then continued his studies in 1927 at the Regio Conservatorio di Parma, where he studied composition with Guido Guerrini, Carlo Jachino, and Achille Longo with whom he graduated in 1933.

In those early years of study in Parma, his compositions met with highly encouraging appreciation and recognition: Il Campiello delle Streghe won a prize at the Camerata Musicale Competition in Naples, the Piano Quintet in F-sharp was published by Bon­gio­vanni Edition in Bologna and then performed several times by many music ensembles, including the Quin­tetto Chigiano.

In 1933 he met for the first time Alfredo Casella, who was one of the leading pianists and composers of the time as well as a key figure in the Italian contemporary music scene, and showed him the composition Preghiera di una Clefta for voice and piano. Casella was so impressed with Margola’s music that he asked him to show other works and suggested to continue with composition. Stimulated by this encounter, Margola wrote the Trio in La (1934-35) that Casella soon began to perform with his Trio Italiano (Bonucci-Poltronieri-Casella) in all major Italian cities as well as many foreign countries. The same composition won the “Silvio Rispoli” Prize in Naples and was chosen, along with a few other works, to represent Italian contemporary music at the Fourth International Festival of Venice in 1936.

In the following years he accumulated many other successes in a number of national competitions. His compositional models from the outset were Ildebrando Pizzetti and then the same Alfredo Casella.

Margola’s long teaching career began in 1936, when he became teacher of music history at the Venturi Institute in Brescia, holding the position until 1939. In those years he also founded a small string orchestra made up of students from Venturi Institute and other local schools with the purpose to perform classical and contemporary music. In 1938 the new orchestra made its debut performing a concert with the collaboration of the then-youthful pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, to whom some years later Margola dedicated his Piano Concerto (1943), which remains among his very best works.

In 1939, Margola moved to Messina to take the position of director as well as theory, harmony, and composition teacher of the “Antonio Laudamo” Musical High School, and a few years later to Cagliari where he became director of the Conservatory “Pierluigi Palestrina”.

Those years constituted a very productive period for Margola: he composed two operas (Il mito di Caino, premiered in 1940 at “Gaetano Donizetti” Theatre in Bergamo, and Il Titone, which was lost when the ship carrying Margola’s belongings to Sardinia was sunk by a torpedo), the Sinfonia delle Isole for strings, several songs for voice and piano, and many vocal pieces.

In 1944 he was deported by the Germans to Mühldorf. Once the conflict ended he returned to Brescia, where he resumed his activities as a composer and teacher.

In 1950 he was transferred to the Bologna Conservatory, where he taught harmony and counterpoint until 1952. In the same years he also conducted the orchestra of the Associazione Amici della Musica. After teaching in Bologna, he moved to the Milano Conservatory, where taught harmony, counterpoint, fugue, and composition until 1957. He then taught the same subjects at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome. In 1960, he returned to Cagliari and then (1963-1975) to “Arrigo Boito” Conservatory in Parma, where he taught advanced composition.

Over the years, Margola composed many important works including three orchestral symphonies, music for string orchestra, three piano concertos (including the famous Kinderkonzert), concertos for oboe, bassoon, horn, violin, vio­loncello, many string quartets, and a lot of chamber music: pieces for wind instruments, songs for voice and piano, sonatas for flute, bassoon, violin, violoncello, works for piano solo, and especially guitar, one of his favourite instruments, for which he composed the majority of his works. He also published textbooks for the study of harmony and composition including the 150 Bassi corredati di esempi e regole per l’armonizzazione dei bassi and the Guida pratica per lo studio della composizione. The catalogue of his compositions, published in Brescia in 1993, compiled by Ottavio De Carli, consists of an impressive 814 works.

He died in Nave (Brescia) on the 9th of March 1992.