Roman Festivals (Respighi)
This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Roman Festivals (Italian: Feste romane) is a symphonic poem written in 1928 by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. It is the third orchestral work in his "Roman trilogy", preceded by Fountains of Rome (1916) and Pines of Rome (1924). Each of the four movements depicts a scene of celebration from ancient or modern Rome. It is the longest and most demanding of the trilogy, and is less often programmed than its companion pieces. Its premiere was performed by the New York Philharmonic with conductor Arturo Toscanini in 1929.
The first movement, "Circus Games" ("Circenses"), depicts the ancient contests in which gladiators battled to the death, with the sound of trumpet fanfares. Strings and woodwinds suggest the plainchant of the first Christian martyrs which are heard against the snarls of the beasts against which they are pitted. The movement ends with violent orchestral chords, complete with organ pedal, as the martyrs succumb.
Next, the Jubilee ("Giubileo"), portrays the every-fiftieth-year festival in the Papal tradition (see Christian Jubilee). Respighi quotes the German Easter hymn, Christ ist erstanden. Pilgrims approaching Rome catch a breath-taking view from Mt. Mario, as church bells ring in the background.
The third movement, "Harvest of October" ("L'Ottobrata"), represents the harvest and hunt festival in Rome. The French horn solo celebrates the harvest as bells and a mandolin portray love serenades.
The final movement, "Epiphany" ("La Befana"), takes place in the Piazza Navona. Trumpets sound again and create a festive clamour of Roman songs and dances, including a barrel organ and a drunken reveler depicted by a solo tenor trombone.
- Woodwinds: 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B-flat and A, piccolo clarinet in D, bass clarinet in B-flat and A, 2 bassoons, and contrabassoon
- Brass: 4 horns in F, 4 trumpets in B-flat and A, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, bass tuba and 3 soprano buccine in B-flat1
- Percussion: timpani, bells, glockenspiel, cymbals, bass drum with cymbals, field drum, snare drum, ratchet, sleigh bells, tambourine, tam-tam, triangle, high and low wood blocks (horse hooves), and xylophone
- Keyboard: piano (2 and 4 hands), and organ
- Strings: mandolin, 1st and 2nd violins, violas, violoncellos, and double basses
Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic premiered the music in Carnegie Hall on 21 February 1929. Toscanini recorded it with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Academy of Music in 1942 for RCA Victor. He recorded it again with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1949, again for RCA. Both recordings were issued on LP and CD. Indeed, the 1949 performance pushed the very limits of the recording equipment of the time as Toscanini insisted the engineers capture all of the dynamics of the music, especially in "Circus Games" and "Epiphany".
This section does not cite any sources. (October 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- "Oxford Dictionary of Music". Retrieved 7 July 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Freed, Richard. "Program notes to Feste romane". Kennedy Center. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Rodman, Michael. "Feste romane (Roman Festivals), symphonic poem, P.157". www.allmusic.com.
- Mangum, John. "Feste romane". www.laphil.com.
- Concert program from Italian premiere.