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A Successful Sequel
Ottorino Respighi, one of the great composer-conductor-pianists of his time, was born in Bologna and studied in St. Petersburg under Rimsky-Korsakov and in Berlin under Bruch. However, it was in Rome, where Respighi settled in 1913, that he found his true inspiration. Pines of Rome was the second of three tone poems he composed between 1914 and 1929, often called the “Roman trilogy.” In Respighi’s own words, “While in Fountains of Rome the composer sought to reproduce by means of tones an impression of nature, in Pines of Rome he uses nature as a point of departure, to recall memories and visions. The century-old trees which dominate so characteristically the Roman landscape become testimony for the principal events in Roman life.” Pines of Rome would also come to dominate the composer’s legacy, quickly becoming his signature work and surpassing Fountains of Rome in popularity. Pines of Rome also shares a Chicago Symphony Orchestra connection with soloist Tage Larsen; just days after the work’s American debut in 1926, the composer himself conducted the Chicago premiere with the orchestra.
Respighi’s works were at times quite progressive, as evidenced by the inclusion of a recorded nightingale call played near the end of the third movement of Pines of Rome. This was the first instance of an orchestral work incorporating electronics. The composer even specified the exact recording to be used, and it is rumored that Respighi himself made the recording on the very hill for which the movement was named. Respighi was also known for his incredible talent at orchestration, and his fascination with music from Italy’s distant past. For the final movement of Pines of Rome, he wrote parts for multiple offstage buccine, an ancient Roman brass instrument used to herd animals and sound the call to battle. The Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s “buccine” will comprise four trumpets and two trombones. See if you can spot them hidden in the alcoves of the balcony at the March performance!
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