Pines of Rome

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Ottorino Respighi

Pines of Rome (Italian: Pini di Roma) is a symphonic poem written by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi in 1924. It is the second orchestral work in his "Roman trilogy", preceded by Fountains of Rome (1917) and followed by Roman Festivals (1926). Each of the four movements depicts pine trees in different locations in Rome at different times of the day. The premiere took place at the Augusteo, Rome under the direction of Bernardino Molinari on 14 December 1924.

Structure[edit]

Pines of Rome




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Pines of Rome consists of four movements, each depicting pine trees located in different areas in the city of Rome at different times of the day:

Pines of the Villa Borghese (I pini di Villa Borghese: Allegretto vivace)[edit]

The first movement portrays children playing by the pine trees in the Villa Borghese gardens. The great Villa Borghese is a monument to the patronage of the Borghese family, who dominated the city in the early seventeenth century. It is a sunny morning and the children sing nursery rhymes and play soldiers.

Pines Near a Catacomb (Pini presso una catacomba: Lento)[edit]

The second movement is a majestic dirge, conjuring up the picture of a solitary chapel in the deserted Campagna; open land, with a few pine trees silhouetted against the sky. A hymn is heard, the sound rising and sinking again into some sort of catacomb, the subterranean cavern in which the dead are immured. Lower orchestral instruments, plus the organ pedal at 16' and 32' pitch, suggest the subterranean nature of the catacombs, while the trombones represent priests chanting.

Pines of the Janiculum (I pini del Gianicolo: Lento)[edit]

The third is a nocturne set on the Janiculum hill. The full moon shines on the pines that grow on the hill of the temple of Janus, the double-faced god of doors and gates and of the new year. Respighi took the opportunity to have the sound of a nightingale recorded onto a phonograph and played at the movement's ending. This was something that had never been done before, and created discussion. The score also mentions a specific recording that references a Brunswick Panatrope record player.

Pines of the Appian Way (I pini della Via Appia: Tempo di marcia)[edit]

Respighi recalls the past glories of the Roman republic in a representation of dawn on the great military road leading into Rome. The final movement portrays pine trees along the Appian Way in the misty dawn as a triumphant legion advances along the Via Appia in the brilliance of the newly-rising sun. Respighi wanted the ground to tremble under the footsteps of his army and he instructs the organ to play bottom B flat on 8', 16' and 32' organ pedal. The score calls for buccine – ancient circular trumpets that are usually represented by modern flugelhorns. Trumpets peal and the consular army rises in triumph to the Capitoline Hill.

Instrumentation[edit]

Pines of Rome calls for the following large orchestra:

Performances and recordings[edit]

Pines of Rome had its premiere on 14 December 1924 at the Augusteo Theatre in Rome, under the direction of Italian conductor Bernardino Molinari, to a positive reception.[1] On 14 January 1926, conductor Arturo Toscanini directed his first concert with the New York Philharmonic which included the American premiere of Pines of Rome. He also performed the piece at his last performance with the orchestra, in 1945. Respighi, who had arrived in the US to undergo a concert tour in December 1925, conducted the work with the Philadelphia Orchestra a day after Toscanini's American premiere.[2][3]

Lorenzo Molajoli and Ettore Panizza both made recordings with the Milan Symphony Orchestra; Molajoli's recording was released by Columbia Records and Panizza's recording was released by Odeon and Decca Records. In 1935, Piero Coppola and the Paris Conservatory Orchestra recorded the music for EMI, released by in the UK by His Master's Voice and in the US by RCA Victor on 78-rpm discs.[4] Toscanini recorded the music with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1953. The music was recorded in stereophonic sound by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orchestra Hall in 1957, also for RCA.

Use in film and elsewhere[edit]

  • The piece was used in Fireworks (1947), an avant-garde film directed by Kenneth Anger.
  • The piece was also used in its entirety in A Movie (1958) by Bruce Conner.
  • The very opening of the work was used at the beginning of the 1983 song "City of Love" released on the album 90125 by the rock band Yes
  • An edited version was used to accompany "flying", frolicking humpback whales in the film Fantasia 2000. The second movement is omitted, along with the nightingale's song in the third and the English horn solo in the fourth.

In addition to Sergei Prokofiev and Gustav Holst, film composer John Williams cites Respighi as a great influence, and his music for the Planet Krypton, heard early on in the film Superman, was strongly modeled after the fourth movement of this piece.

Film composer Basil Poledouris, in his score for Conan the Barbarian (1982) was influenced by various other musical works, including Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky cantata (1938), the choral music of Carl Orff, such as Carmina Burana (1937), and this piece. Poledouris' work on that score is reminiscent of Respighi's second movement in particular, with its rumbling tam-tam, strong brass harmony, rising bass lines, and building string ostinati.

References[edit]

Bibliography

External links[edit]