Today we are sharing the final installment of Manny’s Musings for the 2013-14 season. The Bloomington Symphony’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano, has written these notes to help prepare you for our concert, “Music in 3D,” on Sunday, April 13. We posted previous Manny’s Musings on Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela.
Ottorino Respighi was a son of the city of Bologna, Italy, yet it is probably assumed by many that he was from many miles further south, in Rome. It took him a while to get there and stay for any length of time, however, as he went to study violin and viola in Russia before continuing work in Germany. It was during his time as a professor of composition at the Conservatory of St. Cecelia’s in Rome that his affinity for all things Roman developed. During that time he began what became a trilogy of works focused on three aspects of Rome and its culture. The first is a celebration of the beautiful fountains that dot several squares in the city. The third paints vivid pictures of the annual festivals that denote Italy’s Catholic heritage. The second is featured at this concert and is a paean to the natural beauty of the pine trees that are ubiquitous from the Villa Borghese to the historical Appian Way.
While Richard Strauss was a consummate world musical storyteller, Respighi and Sibelius shared the trait of painting portraits that had to do with their respective cultures. Respighi wrote many compositions, to be sure, but it is these descriptive musical travelogues that have captured the imaginations of concert-goers the world over. Here are the descriptions the composer provides for the benefit of his listeners:
Children are at play in the pine groves of the Villa Borghese, dancing the Italian equivalent of “Ring around a Rosy.” They mimic marching soldiers and battles. They twitter and shriek like swallows at evening, coming and going in swarms. Suddenly the scene changes. We see the shadows of the pines, which overhang the entrance of a catacomb. From the depths rises a chant, which echoes solemnly, like a hymn, and is then mysteriously silenced. There is a thrill in the air. The full moon reveals the profile of the pines of Gianicolo’s Hill. A nightingale sings… Misty dawn on the Appian Way. The tragic country is guarded by solitary pines. Indistinctly, incessantly, the rhythm of unending steps. The poet has a fantastic vision of past glories. Trumpets blare, and the army of the Consul bursts forth in the grandeur of a newly risen sun toward the Sacred Way, mounting in triumph the Capitoline Hill.
Please join us for this concert, “Music in 3D,” on Sunday, April 13 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. To purchase tickets in advance, please visit our online box office here. Tickets are always available at the door.