Born in Palermo into a family of musicians, Giovanni Sollima studied cello with Giovanni Perriera and Antonio Janigro and composition with his father Eliodoro Sollima and Milko Kelemen. He began an international career collaborating among others with Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Jörg Demus, Martha Argerich, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Bruno Canino, DJ Scanner, Victoria Mullova, Riccardo Muti, Ruggero Raimondi, Patti Smith, Philip Glass and Yo-Yo Ma. He plays a cello by Francesco Ruggeri (Cremona, 1679).
As a composer, Sollima has created new blends from diverse genres, combining elements of classical and rock music, as well as of music of the Mediterranean. He composes for acoustic and electric instruments, and others invented by himself or created for him. He has composed music for directors and choreographers, such as Peter Greenaway, Bob Wilson, Peter Stein, John Turturro, Karole Armitage and Carolyn Carlson.
In 2009 he performed in Budapest, Linz and Koln, his new cello concerto Folktales commissioned by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Sollima teaches at the Romanini Foundation in Brescia teaches at the Accademia of Santa Cecilia in Rome where he was appointed Member of the Academy, the highest honour for a musician in Italy.