There is nothing special about the pines in Rome. In fact, these are basically like any other pine. So why the fuss over Pines of Rome? If you’re not a local of the Eternal City, or if you’re not a diehard musician, you would certainly think that I am over reacting to a certain tree specie.
Pines of Rome, or Pini di Roma, is actually a symphonic poem written in 1924 by the Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi. This musician was born in Bologna, north of Italy. He acquired his education in the same place and started his career as a violinist, viola player, and pianist playing in the opera house in his birthplace until he was twenty-one years old. He became a member of the opera orchestra in St. Petersburg, went on to become a professor in composition at the St. Cecilia conservatoire in Rome, and was later on appointed as the Director of the Conservatoire. His resignation in 1926 was to give way to his passion for composing. The Pines of Rome was Respighis second of three symphonic poems about Roman subjects.
The Pines of Rome had its initial performance on December 14, on the same year it was written. Held at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome, the first movement of the Pines of Rome elicited boos from the audience. However, the finale has gotten their interest which earned the performance a standing ovation. The debut performance of the Pines of Rome has given it its popularity.
There are four sections that make up the Pines of Rome. These sections, which are played non stop, are:
Pini di Villa Borghese is the first theme of the tone poem. This part speaks about the pines of Villa Borghese and the children playing under the shadows of these trees. Villa Borghese is home to a wide variety of trees, but an area in the villa, Piazza di Siena, is where the best pines are.
Pini presso una catacomba is the second part of Pines of Rome which is in sharp contrast to the first one. This has a somewhat gloomy theme to it as it talks about pines that can be seen near a catacomb. Cypresses lined the catacombs of S. Callisto which is believed to be a sign of mourning.
Pini di Gianicolo is the third section of the poem. It describes how Gianicolo is richly-decorated with pine trees which are all beautifully illuminated by the moon at night. The musical poem also describes a nightingale singing perched atop a Gianicolo pine.
The Pines of Rome is not only a great contribution to music, but it is also a fascinating way of describing the citys rich culture and natural treasures.
One may think that The Pines of Rome is somewhat the national tree of what was once dubbed as the eternal city. If you are an enthusiast of classical music, you would surely know what it is all about. Written by Ottorino Respighi who was born in Bologna, he studied violin at their states conservatory. He started to play professionally in Saint Petersburg where he eventually became a student under Rimskj Korsakov. In Berlin, he was able to meet Max Bruch where by 1913, he was seconded as teacher of composition at Saint Cecilia. After some time, he turned his attention to symphonic poems at the period that it was very popular. The likes of Berlioz, Lizst, Sibelius and Strauss are among the best known composers of its kind.
Before Ottorio Respighi wrote The Pines of Rome, he finished Le Fontane Di Roma where it was inspired from the four fountains around the metropolis. The structures he chose were the one near Villa Giulia at dawn, the one in honor of Triton in the morning, the one located at Trevi in the afternoon and the one opposite Villa Medici at sunset. Those mentioned were all famous landmarks that are visited by tourists from all over the globe. It was initially performed in 1917 where it was not totally successful but a year later, when it was again presented under the direction of Arturo Toscanini, he rose from a virtual nobody to a budding celebrity.
It was in 1924 that Ottorio Respighi began with jotting down The Pines of Rome. As what the title reflects, it was no longer after the monuments made by human hands but by what Mother Nature has to offer. The first theme was dedicated to the stately trees in Villa Borghese as well as the children who loved to frolic under their shadows. There are actually a lot of its kind that can be spotted there but the finest of which are located around Piazza di Siena. The older part which is behind the Casino, is an Italian garden with only a few number sprouting.
The second set of The Pines of Rome is no longer with a playful mood. Ottorio Respighi deviated from it and focused on the catacomb that were just next to the stately trees. It was the mausoleum of Saint Callisto which is an entire property of the Holy See. Decorated with long stretched alley of cypresses, it was picked as a symbol of bereavement. In March of 1944, there was a grenade that detonated in Via Rasella which is just meters away from Palazzo Barberini. A squad of German soldiers was marching by then bomb exploded ending up with 33 casualties. Even when it was created how many years ago, its eloquence is still very much renowned.