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1924 __ « Pini di Roma »
Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Comment : “Pini di Roma” (English “Pines of Rome”) is a 1924 work by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, and is considered one of the masterpieces of the Roman Trilogy of symphonic poems along with Feste Romane and Fontane di Roma. Each movement portrays the location of pine trees in the city during different parts of the day. The first movement, called "I pini di Villa Borghese", portrays children playing in the pine groves of the Borghese gardens. The music depicts children marching and playing. The second movement, "Pini presso una catacomba" has a more melancholic tune, representing pine trees close to a catacomb in Campagna. Lower orchestral instruments represent the subterranean feature of the catacombs. The two tenor trombones and the bass trombone chant like priests. The third part, a nocturne, "I pini del Gianicolo" is set at night, near a temple of the Roman god Janus on the Janiculum hill. Double-faced gods open large doors and gates, marking the beginning of a new year. A nightingale is heard, giving Respighi the opportunity to include real life bird sounds in his work, a feat unachieved before (the score mentions a specific recording that can be played on a phonograph). The final movement, "I pini della Via Appia", portrays pine trees along the great Appian Way. Misty dawn, A legion advances along the Via Appia in the brilliance of the newly-risen sun. Trumpets sound and the consular army rises in triumph to the capitol. There is an important part for the organ pedal. The first performance was given under conductor Bernardino Molinari in the Augusteo, Rome, on December 14, 1924. (Compiled from various sources)Respighi was a very important post-romantic composer from Italy, a professional violinist, and a teacher of composition. He wrote famous tone poems between 1917 and 1927 and among them were The Fountains of Rome (1917), The Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1929). He also wrote three sets of Ancient Airs and Dances (1917, 1924, 1932), the suite The Birds (1927), composed eight operas, and wrote piano and chamber music as well. Respighi had the inspiration to use a sample of a nightingale singing in his famous work titled The Pines of Rome. Pines of Rome was a tone poem, also called a symphonic poem that is written for a full orchestra. The sample of the nightingale singing was played on a phonograph record player while the other instruments performed. The instrumentation of the piece was quite an extensive one. This wonderful composition consisted of violins, violas, cellos, basses, piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones, 6 bucinae, timpani, cymbals, small cymbals, tamborine, triangle, rattle, bass drum, tam-tam, bells, celesta, pipe organ, piano, and a phonograph turntable that played the nightingale sample. This piece has four landscapes and the use of the turntable appears in the third landscape, which is titled The Pines of Janiculum (Lento). During this landscape Respighi paints a night scene and uses the nightingale as a background sound while the music performs. The phonograph becomes part of the composition and without it the music would have a different character. Using this method was unheard of at this point of time and this event took place shortly after Milhaud made his first discoveries of Turntablism. Although the manipulation of the nightingale sample wasn't changed in terms of pitch, speed, or timbre, this tone poem justifies the use of Turntablism in that the nightingale playing on the phonograph is seen as another musical element and is key to giving this piece its unique sound. (David James Cramer, “The Origins of Turntablism”.)
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