Sale!

Martucci, Respighi, Malipiero: Postcards from Italy, Italian Music for Piano 4-Hands

12.50 9.90

  • Artist(s): Gilda Buttà, Victoria Terekiev
  • Composer(s): Gian Francesco Malipiero, Giuseppe Martucci, Ottorino Respighi
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911731
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Piano 4 Hands
  • Period: Modern
  • Publication year: 2020
Email
SKU: C00346 Category:

Additional information

Artist(s)

,

Composer(s)

, ,

EAN Code

Edition

Format

Genre

Instrumentation

Period

Publication year

Description

The advantage of playing the piano is that the performer has slightly less than a full orchestra under his or her fingers: chords of up to ten notes (and even more) can be simultaneously played, a great timbral variety may be achieved by virtue of touch, articulation and pedalling, and a single musician may achieve musical results which compare more easily with a symphonic orchestra than with any other instrument. The disadvantage is that the privilege of solitude may become the pianist’s doom, and the life of a virtuoso solo pianist may consist of many solitary hours.
While this may appeal to some, for many others, including numerous amateur pianists, the pleasure of making music would be increased by the possibility of sharing the experience with others. Moreover, and particularly at a time when the mechanical or digital reproduction of sound was not yet available or common, orchestral works were frequently transcribed for piano duo: this allowed a more faithful transcription of the thickest orchestral textures, and, at the same time, permitted the enjoyment of the orchestral masterpieces by both the players and their listeners. Finally, in the pedagogical field, the possibility of having two budding pianists playing together offered multiple advantages: together, they could play works of a greater complexity than those they could have played alone; they could also refine their sense of rhythm and tempo; they learnt to adopt listening habits which would prove fundamental both for solo and for ensemble music-making.
This Da Vinci Classics album offers a fascinating overview comprising works for four-hand piano duo written by the so-called “1880 Generation”, in the words of the great music critic Massimo Mila. Under this label, Mila grouped four composers who were born within the space of four years, 1879-1883, namely Ottorino Respighi, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Alfredo Casella and Gian Francesco Malipiero. The task for which they are collectively best remembered is their effort to reconstruct the Italian musical heritage of the past (particularly of the Renaissance and Baroque era), not only in an antiquarian view but aiming at the revivification of these works on the concert stage; moreover, their knowledge of the past inspired these four musicians, each in his own way, to craft a modern idiom whose antique roots could be clearly visible.
The paths of their lives took different turns; occasionally, harsh polemics (frequently with political overtones, especially at the time of Fascism) divided them. Their aesthetical perspectives became pronouncedly at variance; yet, Mila’s definition stands the test of time, because there are common elements uniting these four musicians along the mere biographical data.
Indeed, even though Casella and Respighi stood sometimes on the opposing sides of an aesthetical divide, Casella wanted a particular picture to be reproduced in his autobiography, I segreti della Giara. The photograph portrays both of them, seated side by side on the bench of a Welte-Mignon mechanical piano, and performing together the transcription of Respighi’s Fontane di Roma.

Among the four, Respighi was certainly the most successful, and the one whose fame lasts internationally to present-day. This fame is due especially to his cycle of three symphonic poems, dedicated to the Fountains, the Pine-Trees and the Feasts of the city of Rome, and are the creative consequence of his first impressions of the Eternal City, to which he had recently moved. Respighi had demonstrated his musical gifts since his student years, and had perfected his musical education with experiences abroad, both as a performer and as a composer. He had learnt the secrets of the orchestra from the inside, playing first viola in the St. Petersburg Symphonic Orchestra; while in Russia, he had had the opportunity of studying instrumentation with the musician who was probably the greatest orchestrator of all times, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. These experiences provided Respighi with an absolute mastery of the orchestral colours, and a particular sensitivity for the timbral combinations. This, together with his undeniable musical fantasy and capability to “portray” situations in music, contributed to the success of the Roman Trilogy.
Composed in 1916, Fontane di Roma was performed the following year at one of the most important Italian venues, the Teatro Augusteo; however, the premiere was very disappointing, and Respighi had renounced all dreams of glory for his work. Unexpectedly, when in 1918 the piece was performed once more at La Scala in Milan under Toscanini’s baton, it met with thunderous applause and undisputed success, bringing its composer to international acclaim.
The piece’s four movements, seamlessly connected to each other, depict as many of the Roman fountains “in the hour where their character harmonizes most with the surrounding landscape, or when their beauty seems the most suggestive to those contemplating them”. Therefore, the first movement depicts the Fountain of Valle Giulia at dawn, surrounded by a quiet and bucolic atmosphere of natural and pastoral peace; the second portrays the Fountain of the Tritone in the morning, and evokes a festive pageant of mythical inhabitants of the sea, whose horns resound throughout the movement. The sea-god Neptune is found also in the third movement, where the Fountain of Trevi at midday becomes the scenery for the triumph of the pagan gods. The last piece alludes to the Fountain of Villa Medici at sunset; here the Baroque fantasies evoked by the luxuriant sculptures of mythical beings disappear, and nature, with the aural symbols of a Christian society, emerges once more.
If, as Respighi maintained, the “light” of the different hours was so crucial for showing the true beauty of each fountain – or, in aural terms, if his masterful orchestration is such a fundamental component of the pieces – how will the work result in a piano transcription? The composer himself and his great colleague Casella seemed to appreciate the four-hands version and to consider it on a par with the orchestral original; certainly, the challenge of transforming the piano into an orchestra is not to be taken lightly, but, in the hands of great pianists, this transcription reveals a profound beauty of its own.

By way of contrast, the Sei pezzi per bambini by Respighi are deceivingly simple; conceived originally for piano duo, they offer to their performers a musical tour of the globe, touching Sicily, Scotland and – interestingly – Armenia. Written in 1926, they represent a delightful collection of miniatures, portraying situations (such as Christmas, seen with children’s eyes) and people, and, especially, playing with modality and exoticism in order to transcend the trivial diatonicism of many pieces for children.
If Respighi’s “Armenian” piece explored the possibilities of small-range melodies, creating a hypnotic serpentine of sound, the same idea inspires the beginning of Gian Francesco Malipiero’s Armenia, a series of songs “symphonically transcribed” by the Venetian master. In fact, the work exists in several original versions, dating around 1918, and including one for violin and piano, one for orchestra, and the present one. The tunes are skillfully combined, and the piece reaches heights of expressiveness, melancholia and nostalgia but also of vivacity and rhythmical power.
One year later, when the First World War had only recently ended, Malipiero completed another symphonic work presented here in the version for piano duet, the Pause del silenzio. The pieces’ connection with the war is not simply chronological: in the composer’s words, they “reflect my agitated state” during wartime. While no extramusical content is declared, their title refers to the importance of silence in a moment when war made it “most difficult to find silence. Precisely because of their tumultuous origins, they contain no thematic development or other artifices”. Notwithstanding this, each of the seven pieces has an “expression”, an affection of its own: a pastoral (echoing Respighi’s first movement), a scherzo-like dance, a serenade with lugubrious overtones, a tumultuous whirl, a funereal elegy, a fanfare and a “fire of violent rhythms”. The silence to which the pieces pay homage is broken by the authoritative opening gesture, which recurs as a leitmotiv between the sections: in Malipiero’s words, “it is somewhat heroic, because a timid voice would not be likely to interrupt the silence”. Premiered in 1918 at the Augusteo, this cycle was followed by another by the same title, which did not prove as successful as its elder brother.
This fascinating album focusing on two of the most important musicians of the “Generation of the 1880s” closes with a small forgotten gem, representing the value of the piano duet for the re-presentation of successful music in a family context. Written by Giuseppe Martucci, a great pianist and a pioneer of the ideals which would inspire the “Generation of the 1880s” (indeed, Martucci would later be Respighi’s teacher), it is the work of a 17-years old composer and piano virtuoso who took inspiration from one of the most successful of Verdi’s operas, Un ballo in Maschera, weaving some of its best-loved themes into a characteristic pot-pourri.
From the extreme demands of timbre and technique posed by Respighi’s Fontane and by Malipiero’s Pause del silenzio to the misleading naivety of the children’s pieces, from the compositional experiments of Armenia to the salon atmosphere of Martucci’s piece, this album offers to the listener the full palette of the social and artistic value of the piano duo in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Liner Notes by Chiara Bertoglio

Artist(s)

Gilda Buttà: Gilda Buttà began her studies at the age of six with his father (a violinist), graduating with the highest honors at the Conservatory of Milan, and at the age of sixteen, under the leadership of Carlo Vidusso.
In the same years she made her debut as soloist with the Orchestra of the RAI in Milan, winning shortly thereafter national and international competitions, including the "Premio Liszt" in Livorno.
Then follows the teachings of Lucia Passaglia, Guido Agosti and Rodolfo Caporali.
The concert career has taken her to play for the most important institutions, both as a soloist and in chamber ensembles throughout Europe, USA, South America, Japan, Korea, China, Russia and Israel.
Dedicated to the most diverse styles, from contemporary music through experimentation and contamination, has developed a vast repertoire.
Her vast repertoire for piano and orchestra, ranging from Mozart to Beethoven, Brahms, Gershwin, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, up to Nyman, performed for the IUC in Rome, conducted by the composer himself.
With cellist Luca Pincini, her husband in life, is a special deal of understanding, based on the much curiosity as the rigor of musical choices, which has led them to perform the whole of the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, pages of all the major authors of the classical repertoire, often devoted to compositions by musicians of today, with excellent collaborations.
Gilda Buttà for over twenty five years collaborated with M° Ennio Morricone recording piano in most of his films scores, including: The Legend of the pianist on the Ocean, Canon reverse, Love Affair, The Untouchables, Frantic, Casualties of War, The Good Pope, Bugsy and many others. This is why she is worldwide known as "the pianist of Morricone".
She appeared in several CD and DVD (“I Ennio Morricone", "Film Music", "Piano Solo", "Arena Concerto", "Yo Yo Ma Plays Morricone", "Ennio Morricone-Dulce Pontes "," Live in Japan "," Concert for Peace "," Live in Monaco ") and the various productions, concerts of Radio City Music Hall and Palazzo UN in New York, Herodes Atticus in Athens, Royal Albert Hall in London, Tokyo International Music Forum, Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Arena di Verona, the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, National Theatre of Rio De Janeiro, Piazza San Marco in Venezia, Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Ljubljana Festival, Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
She is also assiduous interpreter of the absolute music of Ennio Morricone who dedicated her "Catalogue" (Suvini Zerboni 2000).
Always has been active as a soloist with other musicians dedicated to Films and Theatre including Luis Bacalov, Nicola Piovani, Franco Piersanti, Paul Buonvino, Lele Marchitelli, Marco Betta, Paolo Silvestri, Daniele Luppi and Gianni Ferrio. Other excellent collaborations such as Mina and Vasco Rossi.
She has recorded for BMG, CAM, SONY, MEG ITALY, PRIMROSE MUSIC LONDON, WARNER, VIRGIN, VICTOR, RCA, EMI ,LIMEN.
For "Weights & Measures", with Luca Pincini, he recorded "Two Skies", with music by Rachmaninov, Gershwin, and Ferrio "Clataja" special guest Roberto Gatto and Luca Bulgarelli.
For the U07 Records has recorded, in duo with Luca Pincini, "Composers", "Absolutely Ennio Morricone" and "Playing George Gershwin”.
She was honored with several awards, including the "Taormina for the Arts.”
After being a professor of piano at the conservatories of Florence and Pescara, now teaches at the Conservatory “Licinio Refice “ in Frosinone.

Victoria Terekiev: Victoria Terekiev is a pianist born in Milan from Bulgarian father and Italian-Bulgarian mother (3/4 +1/4 of rhythmic blood, how she likes to underline). At the age of 11 she recorded two Bach's Preludes at RAI in a television program where was present also the pianist Dino Ciani. As student, she was selected to perform Šostakovič’’s Trio op. 67 at the concert of representation for ESTA chaired by Max Rostal. She also performed piano works "Le Onde” by Ludovico Einaudi in Milan world première. Victoria played for prestigious institutions like: Serate Musicali, Piccolo Teatro, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, FAI, Sala Verdi- Conservatorio in Milan, Wiener Saal in Salzburg, Innsbruck Konservatoriumsaal, XV Asolo Festival, Teatro Angelicum (50th opening Season performing Beethoven's Triple Concerto op.56 in place of Trio di Trieste), Auditorium RSI in Lugano, Villa Simonetta- Festival Chopin Nocturnes, Festival Massa Marittima, Trieste Prima, Madesimo Festival 2015, Sofia UBC and Bulgarian Presidency 2018- Capital of culture for the first european semester 2018. She is often interviewed and invited to live recording at RAITRE/Piazza Verdi, Radio Popolare, Radio Classica, Radio Capodistria, Radio Svizzera - Italiana, Radio Vaticana, Pianosolo. She played with Sergej Krylov, Roberto Cani, Maria Grazia Bellocchio, Mas-simo Belli, Iakov Zats, Piero Bellugi, Gilda Buttà. Her debut CD “Gian Francesco Malipiero-Piano works" released by Nuova Era label, world première, has received wonderful reviews from international critics (..."a selection of songs, this of Malipiero, conceived and beautifully performed by Victoria Terekiev..." Panorama; ..."great sensitivity for being able to bring out the dynamics and cunning technic..." Amadeus; ..."the credit goes given to Terekiev, which provides a performance very involved, accurate in timbre research..." CD Classica; ..."there are lovely and unusual sonorities, performances and sound are exemplary..." Lehman, American Record Guide). Also for Brilliants label she re-corded chamber music: "Rossini-Prélude, Thème et Variations" and "Donizetti-Larghetto, Tema e Variazioni". (..."enjoyable interpretation, technical skill ..." Il Giornale della Musica). Her last CD “Wind from the east” (2016) is a tribute to her bulgarian origins and is dedicated to her first teacher Stefka Mandrajieva. Victoria gives master classes about this unknown repertoire: "The classical bulgarian music with the colors of folklore©"..."I chose this repertoire to get closer to my roots - she said in the interview on magazine Style/ Il Giornale - ...rhythms of the Bulgarian folklore and classical music that meet with their vibrancy, colors and nostalghia...".The reviews about it are wonderful: the magazine “Amadeus” gave five stars. Actually she lives in Milan and she teaches piano and chamber music at Milano Civica Scuola di Musica “Claudio Abbado”. Her students won more than 30 awards in music competitions. Victoria started studying piano early with Stefka Mandrajieva and Eli Perrotta. She graduated at Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi" in Milan. Later she studied with Paul Badura-Skoda, Alfons Kontarsky at Music Hochshule in München; Franco Scala, Tatjiana Nikolajeva. In Salzburg-Mozarteum she attended for two years the class of chamber music by Antonio Janigro, later with Trio di Trieste.

Composer(s)

Gian Francesco Malipiero: Born into a family of musicians of aristocratic origin, he was the grandson of the opera composer Francesco Malipiero (1824–87) and the uncle of Riccardo Malipiero. His childhood was restless and troubled: after the break-up in 1893 of his parents’ marriage, his father Luigi, a pianist and conductor, took him to Trieste, Berlin and eventually Vienna, where the boy studied briefly at the conservatory (1898–9). But in 1899 he returned to his mother’s house in Venice, where he entered the Liceo Musicale, learning counterpoint from Marco Enrico Bossi, who at first had a low opinion of him. After Bossi’s move to Bologna (1902), Malipiero continued his composition studies on his own. It was then that an important new experience transformed his musical outlook: in 1902, without any external encouragement, he discovered and began to transcribe the long-forgotten early Italian music (Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Merulo etc.) in the Biblioteca Marciana. By 1904, when he too moved to Bologna, his composition technique had matured sufficiently to win Bossi’s approval and a diploma at that city’s Liceo Musicale.

Soon afterwards Malipiero became amanuensis for a while to the blind composer Smareglia, a disciple of Wagner. Later he claimed that he learnt more, especially about orchestration, from this experience than from all his formal studies. He gained nothing significant from the few of Bruch’s classes that he attended in Berlin in 1908; more important was his discovery, around that time, of the music of Debussy, and his enthusiasm, albeit short-lived, for Strauss’s Elektra, the première of which he attended. A visit to Paris in 1913 came as another landmark in his experience: it was there that he formed a lasting friendship with Casella, and the first performance of The Rite of Spring, which he attended on Casella’s suggestion, woke him, as he later put it, ‘from a long and dangerous lethargy’. As a result he soon decided to suppress nearly all his compositions written up to that time, although contrary to what he consistently gave the world to understand, he did not destroy most of the manuscripts. (The surviving juvenilia were deposited after the composer’s death at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice.) Meanwhile, however, he had caused ill-feeling in many quarters, and won sudden notoriety, by entering five works, each under a different pseudonym, for a competition organized in 1912–13 by the Accademia di S Cecilia, Rome, thus winning four of the five prizes.

Though again based in Venice after his return from Bologna in 1905, Malipiero spent more and more time from 1910 onwards in the little Veneto hill town of Asolo. But before he could settle there permanently the Retreat of Caporetto forced him and his family to flee, in November 1917, to Rome, and he arrived there with shattered nerves. He later wrote of this tormented time: ‘In 1914 the war disrupted my whole life, which remained, until 1920, a perennial tragedy. The works of these years perhaps reflect my agitation; however, I consider that if I have created something new in my art (formally and stylistically) it happened precisely in this period’ (Scarpa, 1952, p.224). He remained in Rome until 1921 (spending the summer months in Capri) and was associated, while there, with Casella’s Società Italiana di Musica Moderna. The two again collaborated, in 1923, in founding the Corporazione delle Nuove Musiche; but Malipiero was less practical and extroverted than Casella, and played a less central part in the campaign to modernize Italian music. Even smaller was his role in the fascist regime’s reorganization of musical life, though he actively sought, and for a while appears to have enjoyed, the personal favour of Mussolini, with whom he may have had as many as three personal audiences (see Nicolodi, 1984, pp.352–3). That favour was curtailed abruptly in 1934 by the Duce’s condemnation of Malipiero’s opera La favola del figlio cambiato, a condemnation seemingly directed more at Pirandello’s libretto than at the music. Malipiero sought to appease Mussolini by dedicating to him his next opera Giulio Cesare, but the dictator, now preoccupied with his Abyssinian campaign, refused the composer’s next request for an audience.

In 1921 Malipiero was appointed professor of composition at the Parma Conservatory, but he resigned three years later, by which time he had bought (late in 1922) the house in Asolo that remained his home until his death. Having thus stabilized his life as never before, he embarked, in 1926, on his edition of all Monteverdi’s works. The fruits of these labours, completed in 1942, have been justly criticized, but their importance as a major step in Monteverdi studies is unquestionable. In 1932 Malipiero again became a professor of composition, this time at the Venice Liceo Musicale (Conservatory from 1940), which he directed from 1939 to 1952. After his retirement from the conservatory, he continued to teach privately and to preside over the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, editing many volumes in the series of Vivaldi’s complete instrumental works. But these activities, like their equivalents in earlier periods, always remained secondary to his irrepressible urge to compose, which continued unabated right up to 1971.

Giuseppe Martucci: (b Capua, 6 Jan 1856; d Naples, 1 June 1909). Italian composer, pianist and conductor. He was the most important non-operatic composer in late 19th-century Italy and played a versatile, highly influential part in the resurgence of Italian concert life after a period when it had been at a low ebb.

Ottorino Respighi: The son of a piano teacher, Respighi began to learn the violin and the piano as a child, before becoming a student (1891–1901) at the Liceo Musicale, Bologna, where his violin (and viola) studies continued with Federico Sarti. He also studied composition there with Torchi who, being eminent especially as a pioneering musicologist, sowed the seeds of his lifelong interest in early music. The Liceo’s director at that time was Martucci, whose achievements both as an enricher of Bologna’s musical life and as the leading composer of non-operatic music in Italy at the turn of the century made a strong impact on the young Respighi: Martucci taught him composition in his last year as a regular student, and had a high opinion of his technical competence and promise.

In the winter of 1900–01, and again in 1902–3, Respighi was employed for several months as an orchestral viola player in Russia, where he had a few, ‘but for me very important’, lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov that crucially influenced his orchestration. His brief period of study with Bruch in Berlin in 1902 (not, as has often been stated, 1908) seems, on the other hand, to have helped him little. During 1903–8, back in Bologna, he continued to earn his living mainly as an orchestral player, while winning increasing (though still only local) recognition as a composer. From 1906 he also became active as a transcriber of music from the 17th and 18th centuries: his version for voice and orchestra of Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna gained him his first significant public success outside Italy, in 1908 during another visit to Berlin. That second stay in the German capital (which lasted nearly a year) widened his musical horizons considerably, with creative results that can already be discerned in his first full-scale opera, the initially successful but thereafter long-neglected Semirâma.

Although Respighi was seldom much attracted by the more self-consciously innovative musical trends of the time, he nevertheless became marginally involved (in 1910, the year of Semirâma’s première) in a short-lived anti-establishment pressure-group – the ‘lega dei Cinque’ whose other members were Pizzetti, Malipiero, Bastianelli and Renzo Bossi. Soon afterwards the first performance of his justly admired solo cantata Aretusa (1910–11) was given by the singer Chiarina Fino-Savio, for whom he subsequently wrote many songs and who for some years was his close friend and confidante. From then onwards Respighi became more active as a piano-accompanist than as a string player. Meanwhile he had had intermittent opportunities to teach at the Bologna Liceo Musicale without, however, gaining a permanent post there: frustration at this failure led him reluctantly to apply for posts elsewhere, and in January 1913 he settled in Rome, having been appointed professor of composition at the Liceo Musicale di S Cecilia.

Respighi held this post for over a decade, during which he revealed a notable flair for teaching, as several pupils have testified. In addition to Rieti and Amfitheatrof, his students included (from 1915) the young Elsa Olivieri Sangiacomo, a talented composer and singer, who married her teacher in January 1919 and was the inseparable mainstay of many aspects of his existence for the remainder of his relatively short life. (She was to survive him by nearly 60 years, becoming his principal biographer and a tireless fighter for fuller recognition of his achievement right on into the closing decades of the century.)

By 1913 Rome had become Italy’s most vigorous centre of orchestral concert-giving, thus providing a stimulus that was soon to bear appropriate fruit in Fontane di Roma (1915–16). This vivid piece’s huge and well-deserved success, though not quite immediate, was quickly to transform Respighi’s reputation (and finances) beyond recognition. Meanwhile in 1915 an adventurous new colleague had joined him on the staff of the Liceo: after living in France for many years, Casella had returned to Italy bent on drastically modernizing the country’s musical life in the light of his recent experiences abroad. Again Respighi became marginally caught up in the resultant ferment of new ideas; but he played only a limited part in the activities of Casella’s controversial Società Italiana di Musica Moderna (1917–19), with whose aims he had little natural sympathy.

In 1923 Respighi was appointed director of the now state-funded Conservatorio di S Cecilia (as the former municipal Liceo had become from 1919); but his administrative duties proved uncongenial and time-consuming, and in 1926 he resigned so as to have more time to compose. Yet, although he no longer had any economic need to do so, he continued until 1935 to teach an advanced class in composition that had been specially created for him under the auspices of the much older Accademia di S Cecilia. (His successors in this prestigious new post were to include Pizzetti, Petrassi and Donatoni.) Meanwhile, although he continued to win his biggest successes with orchestral pieces, he again became involved in opera-composition, encouraged by his meeting in 1920 with the writer and journalist Claudio Guastalla (1880–1948) who is now remembered almost exclusively as the librettist of all Respighi’s later operas. Guastalla seems also to have exerted a significant influence (for better or worse) on the conceptions and programmes of some of his non-operatic works.

During his later years Respighi’s now worldwide fame encouraged him to travel extensively, conducting his music in many countries on both sides of the Atlantic, accompanying singers – especially (though not only) his wife, who increasingly replaced Fino-Savio as the leading interpreter of his songs – and occasionally even appearing as a piano soloist in his own compositions. Before long his international success brought him substantial rewards at home, including official favours from the fascist authorities: in 1932 he was honoured with membership of the Reale Accademia d’Italia. Mussolini’s own admiration for Respighi’s orchestral works seems to have been genuine and considerable, and it could be argued that parts of, for example, Pini di Roma (1923–4) and Feste romane (1928) evoke something of the atavistic pageantry that became associated with fascist propaganda. Yet Respighi himself remained uninvolved with politics: unlike some of his main Italian contemporaries he seldom wrote to the fascist leaders, and his few surviving letters to them are simple and relatively innocuous. It has been convincingly suggested that ‘Respighi did not attempt to ingratiate himself with the regime because he was the one composer of his generation whom the regime backed without being asked’ (Sachs).

In the field of ‘musical politics’, however, his essentially conservative position was confirmed when he became a signatory (with Pizzetti, Zandonai and various lesser figures) of the notorious, widely quoted manifesto which in December 1932 attacked the more adventurous musical trends of the time and urged a return to established Italian tradition. Ironically, on this occasion the unpredictable Mussolini firmly took the side of the modernists. By then Respighi’s health was declining: a heart murmur had been diagnosed in 1931, and by 1935 more serious heart problems had set in. He completed no new original compositions after 1933, and his last opera, Lucrezia, though seemingly almost finished at his death, is the work of a tired and weakened man.

Video Preview