The Modern Age

twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Ottorino Respighi



Born in Bologna in Italy, Ottorino Respighi studied violin and composition at the city's Liceo Musicale from 1891 to 1901. Towards the end of this period, and again in 1902—3, he visited St Petersburg in Russia, where lessons from the great master of orchestration, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, deeply influenced him. In the first decade of the century, living in Bologna, Respighi was active as a pianist, string player, conductor, and teacher, but he was slow to find a characteristic voice as a composer. A setting from 1910 of Shelley's poem "Aretusa" does show a certain amount of individuality, but the shadow of Richard Strauss is all too visible over the huge and unwieldy Sinfonia drammatica of 1913—14.

In 1913 Respighi settled in Rome to take up a post as professor of composition at the Conservatoire. With his four orchestral impressions of Roman scenes at different times of day, Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome; 1914-16), Respighi at last found the perfect vehicle to suit his talent. Without attempting to plumb emotional or intellectual depths, the music evokes glittering and colourful scenes with great success.

Respighi's international reputation was assured when conductors of the calibre of Arturo Toscanini took Fontane di Roma and its successor, Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome), into their repertories. In Pini di Roma, Respighi displays vivid powers of observation as he imitates children's songs in the opening piece, "Pines of Villa Borghese." The night evocation of "Pines of the Janiculum" even uses a gramophone recording of a nightingale's song. Had he been born a generation later. Respighi would have had obvious credentials for a career m film music.

His later attempts to repeat the formula were not always so happy. In Fate Romane (Roman Festivals), for example, the naivete of earlier works turns into boisterous and superficial brashness. But Respighi's explorations into the Italian music of the past, which he had conducted for 20 years, also bore extensive fruit. In the 1919 production of his ballet La boutique fautasque (The Magical Toy-shop), he arranged for orchestra piano pieces by Rossini with ideal wit and verve; and in 1927 he composed the suite for chamber orchestra Gli uccelli (The birds), skilful and affectionate arrangements of short harpsichord pieces by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century composers such as Rameau and Pasquini.

Respighi's interest in the musical language of pre-Classical composers led him to create a series of more austere and abstract instrumental works, such as the Concerto gregoriano of 1921 for violin and orchestra, and the Quartette dorico of 1924. The most attractive and endearing result of these "archaic" interests was the delightful Christmas cantata Lauda per la Nativita del Signore, clearly inspired in part by the works of Monteverdi.

During Respighi's final years he turned his attentions increasingly to opera, but none of the resultant works entered the general repertory, although the charming children's opera La bella dormente nel bosco (The sleeping beauty in the wood) is worthy of revival. His reputation rests to a large extent on his brilliant and attractive use of orchestral colour and timbre to evoke scenes and places, particularly Rome, where he died in 1936.


Ottorino Respighi



Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)



Violin and Piano Sonata in B minor
Duo Montefiore
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