Conductor, composer, violinist, and pianist Mantovani was one of the most popular and prolific easy listening artists of all time. His trademark "cascading strings" (or "tumbling strings") effect gave him an instantly recognizable sound, and his heavy reliance on the string section in general helped map out the blueprint for much of the light orchestral music that followed in his wake. His repertoire did feature original compositions, but was built chiefly on lush adaptations of familiar melodies: TV and movie themes, show tunes, pop hits (chiefly of the MOR variety), classical material, and the like. Starting his career in the '20s, Mantovani was very much a product of the recording age: he focused almost entirely on recording, instead of live performance; he was one of the first artists to utilize the LP as a primary medium for his releases (as opposed to singles); he was one of the first popular artists to use stereo recording technology, and likely the first to sell over a million records in the stereo format. Fascinated by the studio recording process, he experimented restlessly with miking methods and other technical nuances over the course of an astoundingly large discography — more than 50 albums from the early '50s until his death in 1980 (not counting his numerous 78 rpm records, dating back to the late '20s). He had a steady stream of hit singles in the early '50s, and starting in 1953, he recorded what proved to be a deluge of LPs for Decca and its London subsidiary. The advent of rock & roll stunted his success on the singles charts, but his albums sold like hotcakes in America. From 1955 to 1972, well over 40 Mantovani albums reached the U.S. pop charts; 27 of those reached the Top 40, and 11 made the Top Ten. His recording activities were curtailed after the Decca label was dissolved and absorbed into MCA in 1973, though he continued to compose for several years afterward. He passed away in 1980.