Thursday 7 December 2023

Respighi and beyond: Guildhall School continues its exploration of his underrated musical legacy

Roberto González-Monjas conducts the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in a rehearsal
Roberto González-Monjas conducts the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in a rehearsal

During lockdown, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama did an innovative on-line performance of Respighi's opera La bella dormente nel bosco and the Guildhall School returned to the opera this term, performing a double bill of Respighi operas, La bella dormente nel bosco and Maria egiziaca; see soprano Holly Brown's article about working on the double bill. And the music of Respighi remains a thread running through the Guildhall School's new term.

On Tuesday 27 February 2024 in Milton Court Concert Hall, there is Vocal at Six: Respighi and Friends, an early evening recital directed by Iain Burnside that explores Respighi's songs, from Italian verismo to the world of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. 

Then under the baton of Roberto González-Monjas, the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra presents Respighi's three tone-poems about Rome on Wednesday 13 March 2024 in the Barbican Hall. Perhaps his best-known works the three tone poems, The Pines of Rome, The Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals, are notable for the way that Respighi uses his orchestration in the service of the emotional narrative. Add to that, they are damned good fun to play and to listen to! [further details]

Roberto González-Monjas is chief conductor designate of the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, principal guest conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra and artistic director of Iberacademy in Colombia.

Born in Bologna to a musical family, Respighi studied both composition and violin in Bologna and spent a season playing in the orchestra of the  Russian Imperial Theatre in Saint Petersburg during its season of Italian opera. Whilst there he studied orchestration and composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. After his return he spent quite some time in German, where he may have studied with Max Bruch. Whether he did or not, Germany was a big influence on Respighi's musical style. He died in 1936, but his relationship with the Fascist government seems to have been somewhat equivocal, he was honoured by the government in 1932 but completed no new compositions after 1933. During the post-War period he was grouped with other nationalist Italian composers, Malipiero, Ildebrando Pizzetti, and Pietro Mascagni, who were all regarded with suspicion.

The full season of events is listed on the Guildhall School's website.

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