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Respighi, Elsa (1894–1996)

Respighi, Elsa (1894–1996)

Italian composer, organist, pianist, singer, and writer who became a proponent of her husband's music and produced many of his operas after his death. Born Olivieri Sangiacomo in Rome, Italy, on March 24, 1894; died at age 101 in April or May 1996; married Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936), the composer.

Elsa Respighi, born in Rome in 1894, studied piano with Clotide Poce and Giovanni Sgambati and then attended the Accademia de Santa Cecilia, where she graduated in Gregorian chant. While there, she studied advanced harmony and counterpoint under Remigio Renzi and fugue and composition under Ottorino Respighi whom she later married. The couple toured throughout the world and Elsa often sang their compositions. Respighi devoted the latter part of her life to her husband's music. She completed the orchestration of his opera Lucrezia and produced Belfagor, Fiamma, Campana Sommersa, and Maria Egiziaca. Ottorino's music has continued to grow in stature, in no small part due to Elsa's efforts. In 1969, she founded the Respighi Fondo in Venice which was dedicated to the propagation of musical culture. Elsa Respighi wrote two operas, Alcesti (1941) and Samurai (1945), composed four orchestral works as well as a ballet and many vocal works, and also wrote the text for two ballets by her husband as well as his biography.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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