Ottorino Respighi
Born July 9, 1879, in Bologna, Italy
Died April 18, 1936, in Rome, Italy
3 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, 6 offstage brass, timpani, percussion, harp, keyboard, gramophone, strings
Performance time
23 minutes
December 14, 1924
Last Performed by the TSO
October 22, 2023

The second of Respighi’s “Roman Triptych,” Pines of Rome depicts four settings featuring the magnificent Roman pines of the title. The four movements of the work are named for the trees within the Villa Borghese gardens, near a catacomb, on the Janiculum Hill, and along the Appian Way. Respighi outlines his vision in his own program notes, writing that in “The Pines of the Villa Borghese” “children are at play in the pine groves of the Villa Borghese, dancing the Italian equivalent of ‘Ring around a Rosy.’ They mimic marching soldiers and battles. They twitter and shriek like swallows at evening, coming and going in swarms.” The scene suddenly changes in “The Pines Near a Catacomb,” in which “we see the shadows of the pines, which overhang the entrance of a catacomb. From the depths rises a chant, which echoes solemnly, like a hymn, and is then mysteriously silenced.” Next, in “The Pines of the Janiculum” “there is a thrill in the air. The full moon reveals the profile of the pines of Gianicolo’s Hill. A nightingale sings.” The final movement “The Pines of the Appian Way” represents “a misty dawn on the Appian Way. The tragic country is guarded by solitary pines. Indistinctly, incessantly, the rhythm of unending steps. The poet has a fantastic vision of past glories. Trumpets blare, and the army of the Consul bursts forth in the grandeur of a newly risen sun toward the Sacred Way, mounting in triumph the Capitoline Hill.”

Benjamin P. Skoronski