Pines of Rome

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Pines of Rome
Tone poem by Ottorino Respighi
Ottorino Respighi.jpg
The composer
Native name Pini di Roma
Catalogue P 141
Composed 1924 (1924)
Duration Approx. 21 minutes
Premiere
Date 14 December 1924 (1924-12-14)
Location Rome, Italy
Conductor Bernardino Molinari
Performers Augusteo Orchestra

Pines of Rome (Italian title: Pini di Roma) is a four-movement tone poem for orchestra completed in 1924 by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. The piece, which depicts pine trees in four locations in Rome at different times of the day, is the second of Respighi's trilogy of tone poems based on the city, along with Fountains of Rome (1917) and Roman Festivals (1928). It premiered on 14 December 1924 at the Augusteo Theatre in Rome with Bernardino Molinari conducting the Augusteo Orchestra.

Background[edit]

Pines of Rome is the third tone poem for orchestra in Respighi's collection of works. Similar to that of a symphony, the piece is a suite of four movements, each depicting pine trees located in different areas in the city of Rome at different times of the day.[1] Respighi wrote a short description of each movement.[1]

Structure[edit]

The first movement is based on a scene at the Villa Borghese gardens

Pines of the Villa Borghese (I pini di Villa Borghese, allegretto vivace)[2]

This movement portrays children playing by the pine trees in the Villa Borghese gardens, dancing the Italian equivalent of the nursery rhyme "Ring a Ring o' Roses" and "mimicking marching soldiers and battles; twittering and shrieking like swallows".[2] The Villa Borghese, a villa located within the grounds, is a monument to the Borghese family, who dominated the city in the early seventeenth century.

The Pines Near a Catacomb (I pini presso una catacomba, lento)[2]

In the second movement, the children suddenly disappear and shadows of pine trees that overhang the entrance of a catacomb dominates.[2] It 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 (specifically the Kyrie ad libitum 1, Clemens Rector; and the Sanctus from Mass IX, Cum jubilo), the sound rising and sinking again into some sort of catacomb, the subterranean cavern in which the dead are immured. An offstage trumpet plays the Sanctus hymn. Lower orchestral instruments, plus the organ pedal at 16′ and 32′ pitch, suggest the subterranean nature of the catacombs, while the trombones and horns represent priests chanting.

The Pines of the Janiculum (I pini del Gianicolo, lento)[2]

The end of the third movement features the song of a nightingale, similar to this one, which Respighi incorporated into the score

The third is a nocturne set on 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 requested in the score that it be played at the movement's ending, the first of such an instance in music. The original score also mentions a specific recording that references a Brunswick Panatrope record player. According to author Martin Brody, the nightingale was recorded in the yard of the McKim Building of the American Academy in Rome situated on Janiculum hill.[3]

The Pines of the Appian Way (I pini della Via Appia, tempo di marcia)[2]

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 on 8′, 16′ and 32′ organ pedal. The score calls for six buccine – ancient circular trumpets that are usually represented by modern flugelhorns, which are sometimes partially played offstage. Trumpets peal and the consular army rises in triumph to the Capitoline Hill.

Instrumentation[edit]

The score of Pines of Rome calls for three flutes (the third doubling piccolo), two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets in B and A, bass clarinet in B and A, two bassoons, contrabassoon; four horns in F and E, three trumpets in B, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, six buccine in B (two sopranos, two tenors, two basses; usually played on flugel and saxhorns); a percussion section with timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, two small cymbals, tam-tam, triangle, ratchet, tambourine, glockenspiel; organ, piano, celesta; harp; gramophone; and strings.

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.[4] 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.[5][6]

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.[7] 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. The latest notable recording of Pines of Rome was made by Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra under the baton of maestro Nejc Bečan in 2013.

Use in film and elsewhere[edit]

  • The piece was used in Fireworks (1947), an avant-garde film directed by Kenneth Anger.
  • The piece (sections from it) was also used throughout the entirety of 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]

  1. ^ a b Ferguson 1968, p. 458.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ferguson 1968, p. 459.
  3. ^ Brody 2014, p. 17.
  4. ^ "What's On / Programme Notes - Pines of Rome (1923–4)". BBC Proms 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  5. ^ Frank, p. 75
  6. ^ Borowski and Upton, p. 391
  7. ^ "0x61.com". 0x61.com. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brody, Martin (2014). Music and Musical Composition at the American Academy in Rome. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 978-1-580-46245-7. 
  • Ferguson, Donald N. (1968). Masterworks of the Orchestral Repertoire: A Guide for Listeners. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-816-65762-9. 
  • Borowski, George P. Upton Felix; Upton, George Putnam (2005). The Standard Opera and Concert Guide Part Two. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-41918-139-9. 
  • Frank, Mortimer H. (2002). Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years. Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-1-57467-069-1. 

External links[edit]