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The Innovations Of Symphonic Poem In Respighi's Fountains Of Rome

1831 words - 8 pages

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) is a well-known Italian composer, pianist, conductor, and music educator. His music was influenced by the brighter colors of Rimsky‐Korsakov and Strauss, and his symphonic poems are notable for their brilliant and luscious scoring. During his study in Russia, he learned orchestration from Rimsky-Korsakov, who significantly influenced Respighi’s orchestration. As a twentieth-century composer, Respighi’s tonal compositions seem to be out of fashion compared with other composers in the same stage, such as Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok, Webern, etc. He was seldom attracted by the more self-consciously innovative musical trends of the time; however, he energized the traditional tonal music to develop to the various ways. For example, he is the first composer who uses the prerecorded tape in live performance in his symphonic poem Pines of Rome. Additionally, the instrumentation of works places them in the forefront of music of popular concerts, and has no doubt done much to raise the standard of orchestration and orchestras in Italy. In Fountains of Rome, Respighi finds new ways to portray his subject matter musically, which results in an innovative work in the genre of the symphonic poem.
Fountains of Rome, as the fist piece of his most famous and representative three roman symphonic pomes, was composed in 1916 and premiered by Antonio Guarnieri in March 11, 1917. Respighi in this composition musically depicts the sight of each of four fountains in a certain time period, that is, “The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn”, “The Triton Fountain in the Morning”, “The Trevi Fountain at Noon”, and “The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset”. When we refer to the symphonic poem, its features will come to our mind as the textbook stated: Symphonic poem (tone poem) is a piece of orchestral music, usually in one movement, based on a literary, poetic, or other extra-musical idea. The symphonic poem has its ancestry in the concert overture of the earlier 19th century (e.g. Beethoven's Coriolan and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which also serve as musical illustrations of literary subjects), as well as in the symphony itself, in the much-expanded and expressive form that it had attained by mid-century. Obviously the Fountains of Rome is by no means a traditional symphonic poem. Firstly, I will analyze its unique formal design. Secondly, I will talk about its non-traditional section arrangement. Thirdly, I will discuss Respighi’s general idea of this symphonic poem that contradicts other early composers. Finally, I will discuss the influence of his symphonic music toward the film music.
Respighi named four sections with different subtitles. Someone may claim that each section should be a single movement because each of them are in no way similar in the aspects of tempo, motives, form, time signature, orchestration, and characters. Admittedly, there are apparent pauses generated by rests or fermatas between two sections;...

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