Program 82
"Symphonic Rome"

MUSIC: clip from the opening of Respighi's The Pines of Rome performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 410 145-2, track 1] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and for the next hour we're going to explore orchestral pieces inspired by the city of Rome. Stay with me and you'll hear absolutely sparkling symphonic fireworks by Hector Berlioz and Ottorino Respighi brought on by their love of the Italian capital.

MUSIC: fades out

This is the third in a series of Compact Discoveries hours that I am devoting to music inspired by cities. The first was Paris. The second was London. Others are planned for New York and Vienna. But this trip is to Rome.

The Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi wrote enough music about Rome to more than fill this complete hour without seeking out any other composer's works. We'll listen to his two most famous pieces, the Pines of Rome and the Fountains of Rome. We'll also hear the final movement of his Roman Festivals.

But we'll start, appropriately enough, with an overture on the subject, the Roman Carnival Overture by the French composer, Hector Berlioz. He lived from 1803 until 1869, dying a decade before Respighi was even born in 1879.

The Roman Carnival was composed in 1844 as a concert overture based on themes from Berlioz's opera Benvenuto Cellini. Berlioz was probably trying to revive interest in his opera, which had failed miserably at the Paris Opera in 1838. The resulting overture has become one of the warhorses of the classical music repertoire. We hear it now on a Deutsche Grammophon compact disc with Lorin Maazel conducting the Berlin Philharmonic.

MUSIC: Berlioz: Le Carnaval Romain, Ouverture caractéristique, Op. 9 performed by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Lorin Maazel [Deutsche Grammophon 415 109-2, track 5] [8:38]

The Roman Carnival Overture, Opus 9, by Hector Berlioz. Lorin Maazel conducted the Berlin Philharmonic on a Deutsche Grammophon compact disc recording.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are exploring symphonic music inspired by the city of Rome.

The rest of the hour will be devoted to the trilogy of Roman orchestral compositions by the Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi, who died in that city shortly before the start of World War Two in 1936.

Respighi was born in Bologna in 1879 and studied there at first. He was known principally as a violist when, in 1900, he went to St. Petersburg in Russia to lead the violas in the opera orchestra there. While in St. Petersburg he took lessons in composition and orchestration from Rimsky-Korsakov, who is still regarded as one of the best orchestrators who ever lived. Respighi learned so well from his teacher, that Respighi is now also mentioned as one of the best orchestrators of all time.

Respighi quickly became known as a composer rather than as a string player, and was eventually appointed a professor of composition at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. In 1924 he was named its director, but resigned in 1926 to devote himself entirely to composing and concert-giving.

The music you will hear for the rest of this hour clearly demonstrates Respighi's genius at orchestration. But I, for one, don't always see the same pictures he is trying to bring to mind with his music. For example, this next piece, The Pines of Rome, starts with the pines of the Villa Borghese. To me this sounds more like fountains and should instead be the opening of the Fountains of Rome. In any case, this sparkling music, which Respighi saw as representing children at energetic and noisy play, switches all of a sudden to the entrance to a catacomb. That does sound like a catacomb to me.

The next section is the "Pine Trees of the Janiculum." It is a nocturne complete with recorded nightingale. The final section represents dawn breaking on the Appian Way when an army approaches and mounts the capitol in trumpet-tongued triumph.

This London recording of the Pines of Rome features the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Pines of Rome performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 410 145-2, tracks 1, 2, 3, 4]

Respighi's The Pines of Rome performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit.

You are listening to pieces inspired by the city of Rome on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[two seconds of silence for optional cutaway for one-minute break not included in the 58:00 total timing of the program]

Many people consider Respighi's Fountains of Rome, completed in 1916, to be his best work. It was the first of his Roman compositions, the Pines of Rome coming a decade later, in 1926, and Roman Festivals in 1928.

The Fountains of Rome was suggested, according to Respighi, by "four of Rome's fountains contemplated at the hour in which their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape." First comes the Giulia Valley Fountain at Daybreak, then "The Triton Fountain in the Morning." Next is "The trevi Fountain at Midday," and finally "The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset," viewed at the hour of tolling bells and rustling leaves.

We return again to the London compact disc with Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Fountains of Rome performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 410 145-2, tracks 9, 10, 11, and 12]

Respighi's The Fountains of Rome performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Charles Dutoit.

I have been devoting this hour of Compact Discoveries to music related to Rome, Italy, and most of it has been composed by Ottorino Respighi. After all, he devoted three symphonic works to Roman themes. The last of these was Roman Festivals from 1928. This was the least successful and is the least known of this triptych. I'll conclude this hour with the final section of that work, which is my favorite part. Once again we return to the London compact disc with Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

MUSIC: "La Befana" from Respighi's Roman Festivals performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 410 145-2, track 8]

The concluding section from Respighi's Roman Festivals performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Charles Dutoit.

MUSIC: clip from the opening of Respighi's The Pines of Rome performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 410 145-2, track 1] [under the following]

That concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to symphonic music inspired by the city of Rome. My name is Fred Flaxman and I hope you enjoyed the music. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. You can contact me through the Compact Discoveries website: www.compactdiscoveries.com.

On the website you'll find the script for this and all other Compact Discoveries programs. The scripts include information on every compact disc used in the programs. The website also lists the stations carrying this series, as well as comments from listeners and a separate section of Compact Discoveries articles. There is also information there about national underwriting of the programs. The web address again is www.compactdiscoveries.com.

Compact Discoveries is a registered trademark and production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. This program is made possible in part by the members of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: up and fade out at 56:55

WFMT Announcer: This program is distributed by the WFMT Radio Network. [5 seconds]

Program Ends at 57:00

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