Pines of Rome : Work information

Ottorino Respighi ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Fernando Lozano (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Pines of Rome
Work number
1924-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Ivan Pastor
Xavier Villalpando
Recording date
1982-01-01 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Pines of the Villa Borghes 23:46 min


Part of Respighi's Roman Trilogy and one of his most popular symphonic poems, Pines of Rome is an orchestral tour de force. Composed in 1924 it demonstrates the composer's mastery of orchestral colour in his evocation of four forest landscapes near Rome.

The large orchestra employed is supplemented by a battery of percussion including harp, piano, organ, bells, and celeste. In Pines of the Appian WayRespighi even calls for six buccine (ancient Roman war-trumpets). As these instruments haven't existed for over 1500 years, performances use trumpets and trombones instead! See if you can spot the use of a recorded Nightingale bird-song in Pines of Janicule.

The Composers

Ottorino Respighi

Ottorino Respighi was born in Bologna and would eventually become Italy's most important postromantic composer. Trained first in his home town's Liceo Musicale, he acquired sufficient viola skills to gain sporadic employment as an orchestral player in Russia.  There he receieved lessons Rimsky-Korsakov , which were influential but few.  Less helpful were the studies in 1902 with Max Bruch in Berlin.

Returning to Bologna he was a professional violinist (1903- 08), gaining local recognition as a composer.  A return to Berlin saw him compose his first opera, Semiráma (1908), which although a success when performed in 1910 was soon forgotten.  After a few years as a pianist (mostly accompanying singers, he taught composition (1913-25) at Rome's Santa Cecilia Academy.  It was during this time that he wrote the first of his three most enduring works; The Fountains of Rome (1917), The Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1929) are exuberant tone-poems which are still frequently performed.  Also still popular are his sets of Ancient Airs and Dances (1917, 1924, 1932), a testament to his love of the early music he unearthed and edited.

Respighi's success allowed him to travel to the New World, where he conducted and accompanied his wife, a singer of his works.  As he aged his abilities began to wane; he began no new works after 1933 and his final unfinished opera, Lucrezia, is arguably not his finest hour. 

Respighi's status as composer of choice of Mussolini is perhaps not a reflection of the composer's own beliefs.  His scant correspondence with the fascist politicians of the time reveals little in the way of support for any political agenda, and his attacks on modernism, although reminiscent of the contemporary Nazi diktats, are nothing one would not expect such a composer to make in peacetime.  In any event, on this subject he was in opposition to Mussolini.