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Ottorino Respighi

Ottorino Respighi

The rather conservative eclecticism of the music of the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) made it immediately popular. His skill in writing for orchestra was unsurpassed.

The father of Ottorino Respighi was a professional musician and teacher at Bologna's Liceo Musicale, where Ottorino received his first musical training. He was a gifted violinist, and it was not until after his graduation from the conservatory that he definitely decided to be a composer rather than a violin virtuoso. Realizing that he needed a broader musical background than that supplied at home, he went to St. Petersburg to study with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and later to Berlin to study with Max Bruch, a rather conservative German composer.

After his return to Italy, Respighi was appointed professor of composition at the prestigious Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome, and in 1923 he became its director. Tours of Europe and the United States in 1925, 1928, and 1932, in which he conducted his compositions with leading orchestras, spread his fame.

Respighi is chiefly remembered as the composer of two tone poems, the Fountains of Rome (1916-1917) and the Pines of Rome (1924), brilliantly orchestrated evocations of the Eternal City. In a preface to the score of the former the composer wrote, "In this symphonic poem the composer has endeavored to give expression to the sentiments and visions suggested to him by four of Rome's fountains, contemplated at the hour in which their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape, or in which their beauty appears most impressive to the observer." The Pines also has four sections, depicting the Villa Borghese, a catacomb, the Janiculum, and the Appian Way. These are very effective programs because they allowed the composer to write music of contrasting moods and varying associations, both pictorial and historical.

These compositions show Respighi's complete mastery of modern orchestration. His use of solo woodwinds and brass reveals what he learned from Rimsky-Korsakov, but it is also apparent that he knew the scores of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss as well. In the third section of the Pines, Respighi introduces a recording of an actual nightingale's song into the score.

Other compositions of Respighi are the operas The Sunken Bell, produced at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1928, Maria Egiziaca (1932), and La Fiamma (1934); a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, La Boutique fantasque (1919), written on themes by Gioacchino Rossini; and a Concerto Gregoriano (1922) for violin and orchestra, based on Gregorian chant.

Further Reading

There is no biography of Respighi in English, but his wife, Elsa Respighi, wrote a memoir, Ottorino Respighi (trans. 1962). He is discussed in Paul Collaer, A History of Modern Music (1955; trans. 1961), and David Ewen, The World of Twentieth-century Music (1968).

Additional Sources

Alvera, Pierluigi., Respighi, New York, N.Y.: Treves Pub. Co., 1986.

Ottorino Respighi, Torino: ERI, 1985.

Respighi, Elsa, Fifty years of a life in music, 1905-1955, Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 1993. □

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Respighi, Ottorino

Respighi, Ottorino (b Bologna, 1879; d Rome, 1936). It. composer, conductor, string-player, pianist, and teacher. Went to St Petersburg 1900 as first va. in opera orch. and from 1901 studied with Rimsky-Korsakov, then in Berlin with Bruch, 1902. From 1903 to 1908 pursued career as violinist and violist and was pianist at Berlin singing-sch. 1908–9. Prof. of comp. at Liceo di S. Cecilia, Rome, 1913; dir. 1924–6. His mus., though based on classical forms, was influenced by the brighter colours of Rimsky-Korsakov and Strauss, and his symphonic poems are notable for their brilliant and luscious scoring. In his operas he reacted against Puccinian ‘realism’, but they are more impressive orchestrally than vocally. Some of his most tender and exquisite work is to be found in his shorter vocal pieces. Prin. works:OPERAS: Re Enzo (1905); Semirama (1910); Belfagor (1921–2); La bella dormente nel bosco (1916–21); La campana sommersa (The Sunken Bell) (1923–7); Maria Egiziaca (1929–31); La Fiamma (1931–3); Lucrezia (1935).BALLETS: La Boutique fantasque (The Fantastic Toyshop) adapted from mus. by Rossini (1919); Belkis, Regina di Saba (1930–1).ORCH.: Notturno (1905); Sinfonia drammatica (1913–14); Fountains of Rome (Fontane di Roma) (1914–16); Ancient Airs and Dances, transcr. for orch., 1st series (1917), 2nd series (1924), 3rd series (str.) (1931); Ballata delle gnomidi (1918–20); Pines of Rome (Pini di Roma) (1923–4); Rossiniana (from Rossini pf. pieces) (1925); Vetrate di Chiesa (Church Windows), 4 symphonic impressions (1925); Impressione brasiliane, sym. suite (1927); Trittico Botticelliano (1927); The Birds (Gli uccelli) (1927); Feste Romane (Roman Festivals) (1928); Metamorphosen modi XII (1930).CONCERTOS etc.: pf. conc. (1902); Concerto in the Old Style, vn. (1908); Adagio con variazioni, vc. (1920); Concerto Gregoriano, vn. (1921); Concerto in modo misolidio, pf., orch. (1925); Poema autunnale, vn., orch. (1920–5); Toccata, pf., orch. (1928); conc. for ob., tpt., vn., db., pf., str. (1933).VOICE(S) & ORCH.: Aretusa, mez., orch. (1911); La primavera, soloists, ch., orch. (1918–19); Il Tramonto, mez., str. qt. (1914); Deità silvane, sop., pf. (1917), high v., chamber ens. (1925); Lauda per la natività del Signore, sop., cont., ten., ch., orch. (1928–30).CHAMBER MUSIC: 11 pieces, vn., pf. (1904–7); str. qt. (1907); vn. sonata (1917); Doric str. qt. (1924).TRANSCRIPTIONS: Monteverdi: Orfeo (1935); Lamento d'Arianna (1908); Marcello: Didone, cantata (1935); Rossini: Soirées musicales for ballet La Boutique fantasque (1919); J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in D, for orch. (1930); 3 Organ Chorals, for orch. (1931); Passacaglia in C minor, for orch. (1934); Vitali: Chaconne, for vn., str., org. (1909).

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"Respighi, Ottorino." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Respighi, Ottorino

Ottorino Respighi (ôttōrē´nō rāspē´gē), 1879–1936, Italian composer, studied with Rimsky-Korsakov and Max Bruch. He was director (1924–25) of the Conservatory of St. Cecilia, Rome, afterward teaching advanced composition there until his death. Among his romantic symphonic poems are The Fountains of Rome (1917), The Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1929), which evoke Italian scenes and show him a master of orchestration. He wrote other orchestral works, chamber music, piano pieces, and operas, including Belfagor (1923; a comic opera), The Sunken Bell (1927; based on Hauptmann's Die versunkene Glocke), The Flame (1934), and the posthumously produced Lucrezia (1937), which was finished by his wife, Elsa.

See biography by E. Respighi (tr. 1962).

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"Respighi, Ottorino." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Respighi, Ottorino." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/respighi-ottorino