Composer of the Day

The Composer of the Day is Ottorino Respighi, born in Bologna, Italy on 9 July 1879.
Like many composers, his early teachers was one of his parents: his father, who also taught piano. He went on to study violin and viola, and, after getting his diploma in violin, went to St. Petersburg, where he was principal viola in the Russian Imperial Theatre orchestra. While there, he studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov (18 March 1844, who also taught Stravinsky (17 Jun 1882), Glazunov (10 Aug 1865), and Prokofiev (23 April 1891), among others).

He’s best known for three tone poems: “The Fountains of Rome” (1917), “The Pines of Rome” (1924), and “Roman Festivals” (1928). “The Pines of Rome” has the first use of a nightingale at the end of the 3rd movement. Unfortunately, at the time, there were no nightingales in the musicians union, so Otto specified a recording. Immediately following the nightingale comes the “Pines of the Appian Way” section, a stirring and dramatic musical portrait of Roman Legion soldiers marching along the Appian way. The drama is intensified by the organ playing a low B-flat in the pedal.

He also wrote string quartets, five ballets – La Boutique fantasque among them, two Suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. a delightful suite, “The Birds”, and a lot of vocal and choral music.

He died in Rome in 1936.


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