Fountains of Rome
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Fountains of Rome (Italian: Fontane di Roma) is symphonic poem written by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. It is the first orchestral work in his "Roman trilogy", followed by Pines of Rome (1924) and Roman Festivals (1928). Each of the four movements depict one of Rome’s fountains at different times of the day. Its premiere was held on March 11, 1917 at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome under the direction of Antonio Guarnieri.
The first section, The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn (La fontana di Valle Giulia all'Alba), shows this fountain at daybreak in a pastoral landscape which cattle pass through during the morning.
In the second section, The Triton Fountain in the Morning (La fontana del Tritone al mattino), depicts Naiads and Tritons dancing in the morning light, as figures of the Bernini fountain are seen nearby. Gods and goddesses using conch shells are portrayed by the French horn.
The final section, The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset (La fontana di Villa Medici al tramonto), portrays a much more melancholic atmosphere, as the brilliance of the sun fades.
Fountains of Rome calls for the following large orchestra:
- woodwinds: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in B-flat and A, bass clarinet in B-flat and A, 2 bassoons
- brass: 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B-flat and A, 3 trombones, tuba
- percussion: timpani, cymbals, triangle, bell in D, glockenspiel
- keyboards: organ (ad lib.), piano, celesta
- strings: 2 harps, violins i, ii, violas, violoncellos, double basses
It was also transcribed for piano duet by the composer.
Performances and Recordings
Arturo Toscanini originally planned to conduct the work in 1916, but the Italian composer refused to appear for the performance after a disagreement over his having included some of Wagner's music on a program played during World War I.[clarification needed] Consequently, it did not premiere until March 11, 1917 at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome with Antonio Guarnieri as conductor. Although the premiere was unsuccessful, Toscanini finally conducted the work in Milan in 1918 with tremendous success.
The piece was first performed in the United States on February 13, 1919. Toscanini recorded the music with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1951; the high fidelity recording was issued on LP and then digitally remastered for release on CD by RCA Victor. The work has since become one of the most eminent examples of the symphonic poem.
- Program notes by Stephanie von Buchau, written for Deutsche Grammophon's production of the recording by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.