He learnt his first musical rudiments from a priest, Don Carlo Buzzi and enrolled very young in the Conservatorio di Musica G. Verdi” in Milan, where he got a Diploma in Piano with Giuseppe Frugatta and in Composition with Vincenzo Ferroni in 1922.
In 1931, he married Elena Camera, daughter of the great Baritone Edoardo Camera.
He acquired and refined his own particular way of playing the piano, that is an “orchestral” pianism which supports singing by reproducing the effects of an orchestra. A passionate musician, both exuberant and welcoming, when playing the piano and singing he involved all his listeners, even the not very competent ones.
In the 30s he collaborated with Carlo Lombardo composing some very successful light operas (over 400 performances for “I mulini di Pit Lil”).
In 1943 (even before devoting himself to the composition of his first opera), he met Maestro Tullio Serafin, who described him as “possessing uncommon qualities, easy melodic inventiveness... an excellent pianist... experienced in musical subjects” in one of his autographed letters (Rome, 17/4/1942).
In January 1943, Giuseppe Adami, the author of the libretto for Turandot, wrote to him wishing for “an imminent triumphant collaboration”, which was however impeded by the war and the death of the writer in 1946.
He was among the few who studied with Pietro Mascagni, from whom he drew his passionate melodramatic style.
In 1945, he composed his first opera “JADE”, which was included in the programme of the RAI 1960/61 opera season (the performance by the Milan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ferruccio Scaglia was broadcast several times).
He wrote several operatic and instrumental compositions for piano. He also composed church music and oratorios for solos, choir and orchestra, but his true talent was for melodrama.
In the last fifty years of his life he devoted himself exclusively to composing for opera theatre, dealing with various themes and situations, always driven by life’s passions and tragedies: the Holocaust in “IL GHETTO”, or the tragedy of the first rebellions against the unbearable life conditions in French coalmines at the end of the 18th century in “GERMINAL” (inspired by Emile Zola’s masterpiece).
In 1952, he moved to Rome, where he composed “STAREZ”, an opera in three acts freely based on the character of Rasputin. Maestro Sanpaoli, Art Director of Rome Opera Theatre, would have included “STAREZ” in the 1958/59 season programme had he not resigned because of the scandal caused by Ms Callas at the opening of “NORMA”.
In 1970, he achieved international recognition at the International Music Contest “Guido Valcarenghi” (the founder of Casa Ricordi), chaired by Herbert Von Karajan, thanks to “IL GHETTO”, an opera in three acts awarded with a silver plaque out of thirty-six competing scores from twelve different countries.
In the same year he became a Member of SIAE.
In 1972, he won the Contest announced by Cassa Nazionale Musicisti (National Musicians’ Fund) with his opera “MIRAGGIO” (from a novel by Rodenbach) based on a libretto by Emidio Mucci, a former collaborator of Licinio Refice’s.
The town of Monte Compatri (near Rome), where he had been living since 1972, conferred honorary citizenship on him for having contributed to spreading the knowledge of music by organizing both operatic and symphonic concerts. The Music  School “Giancarlo Colombini” was also founded in the same town.
Since 1988 he had been working at “MASHA”, an opera in three acts based on a libretto by Dino Borlone (also the author of “IL GHETTO”, “GERMINAL” and “SURVIVAL”), inspired by “The Captain’s Daughter” by Pushkin. The opera remained unfinished half through the second act.
The Maestro passed away unexpectedly on January 23rd 1991. He is buried in Monte Compatri.