The composer Gian Carlo Menotti, founder of the Spoleto Festival, has died at the age of 95 in Montecarlo.

Born in Cadegliano (Varese) on 7 July 1911, he began his musical studies at the Milan conservatoire, before moving to the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia to study composition with Rosario Scalero. Here he got to know Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber.

Menotti founded the Spoleto Festival in 1958 and the small Umbrian village became the centre of some of the best in the performing arts until well into the 1990s when both the age of Menotti and financial cuts began to take their toll.

In 1977 Menotti founded the USA Spoleto Festival, in Charleston, South Carolina, with enormous benefit to the cross-cultural ties between the United States and Italy. Throughout the 1980s anyone who was anyone in the arts wanted to perform at Spoleto.

In the early 1990s he handed over the management of the festival to his adopted son Francis and in 1993 he was appointed artistic director of the Rome Opera House for a short, and not very successful, period.

For the last decades of his life he made his home in Scotland, although he always put in a spirited appearance at the annual press conference to launch the festival each year.

His first successful work was the opera Amelia al Ballo (1937), which led to numerous other commissions. These include The Old Maid and the Thief (1939), the ballet Sebastian (1944), Concerto for piano and orchestra (1945), the opera for television Amahl and the Night Visitors, and many others.

His two most popular works, which were often performed at Spoleto, were The Telephone (1947) and The Consul (1950).