Friday, January 13, 2012

Respighi - Pines Of Rome

Ottorino Respighi  (1879 - 1936) was born in Italy and was a composer, musicologist and conductor. He learned piano and violin from his father and went on to study violin, viola and composition at the school in Bologna, Italy.  After his schooling he accepted an offer to be principle violist at St. Petersburg in the Russian Imperial Theater's Italian Opera season. While there he studied orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov.  He also spent time in Germany before accepting a position as teacher of composition in Rome where he spent the rest of his life.

Pines of Rome is one part of Respighi's Roman trilogy, the other tone poems being Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals. Pines of Rome is a symphonic poem in four sections that represent different places in Rome:

The Pines of the Villa Borghese - The tone poem opens with a flurry of activity in the orchestra as Respighi paints a tonal picture of children raucously playing (and getting into the inevitable squabble) among the pine groves of the Borghese gardens in Rome.
Pines near a catacomb - The orchestras low pitched instruments give the impression of the deep catacombs, complete with the chanting of priests.
The Pines of the Janiculum -  On the second highest hill of Rome, the legendary home of the two-faced god Janus, a nightingale is heard singing.  This is the first composition known that asks for a real recording of a bird call.  It is to be played at the indicated place in the score, and a specific recording is mentioned in the score.
The Pines of the Appian Way -  The Appian Way is a road that was begun in 3112 B.C.E. and still exists. Respighi paints a tonal picture of the road at sun rise in the fog, and slowly in the distance can be heard the marching of a Roman Legion making its way up the road.  As it gets nearer, the music gets louder and more forceful. The composer asks for the ancient buccina in the score, a trumpet used in Roman times. The music continues growing and finally with trumpets blaring and an all around splendid racket, the tone poem comes to a close.

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