Born on Beethoven's birthday in 1936, Piero Gamba began his career as a rare child prodigy among conductors and was the subject of a fictionalized Italian dramatic film, La Grande Aurora (1946), in which the nine-year-old conductor rather nervously played himself. This project was undertaken in response to Gamba's debut under the nickname "Pierino Gamba" in 1945 at a public rehearsal, leading the Rome Opera Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Although the film was a popular success, Gamba's career as an adult conductor had a hard time getting off the ground; nonetheless, he toured extensively in the postwar period and made his British debut in 1948. Gamba did earn a reputation for sensitive handling of concerto accompaniments, appearing as conductor on several of pianist Julius Katchen's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra.