Bach, Johann Sebastian / orch. Respighi, Ottorino


Bach, Johann Sebastian / orch. Respighi, Ottorino

Passacaglia in Do minore for orchestra

SKU: 1951 Category:


Johann Sebastian Bach
(geb. Eisenach, 31. März 1685 – gest. Leipzig, 28. Juli 1750

Passacaglia in D Minor, BWV 582

Orchestral Version by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)

Composer, musicologist, violinist, and violist Ottorino Respighi enjoyed a celebrated international career that met with critical acclaim for his success in combining the rich heritage of Italian music with the impressively diverse palette of Russian orchestral color and the often compelling, if not jarring, experimental harmonic language of Richard Strauss. His keen interest in historical music led him to adapt earlier musical styles into his own language and to arrange seminal works of several musical forefathers into new media, among which is Respighi‘s orchestration of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Passacaglia in D Minor, BWV 582.

Respighi‘s earliest musical training began in piano and violin with his father, a local piano teacher. He continued his education at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna from 1891-1901, studying violin and viola with Federico Sarti, composition with Giuseppe Martucci, and music history with Luigi Torchi, who was a scholar of early music and a composer. Upon earning a diploma in violin in 1899, Respighi embarked on an international career in 1900, when he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia. There he served as the principal violist in the orchestra of the Russian Imperial Theater. For five months he studied composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who inspired Respighi‘s brilliant orchestration technique. Thereafter Respighi returned to Bologna where he earned a second diploma in composition.

After serving as the first violinist in Bruno Mugellini‘s quintet and following performances in Germany, in 1913 Respighi was appointed professor of composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, a post he held for the rest of his life. Enjoying the success of his operas Re Enzo and Semirama in Italy which led to this appointment, Respighi‘s reputation as an acclaimed international composer began in 1917 with several performances of Fountains of Rome. A visit to Brazil inspired Impressioni brasiliane, which was premiered in 1928 in Rio de Janeiro and led to him meeting the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi with whom Respighi enjoyed a close friendship. Respighi‘s fame in the United States began in November 1928 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra‘s premiere of his Toccata for piano and orchestra in which the composer was featured as the soloist. His renown continued in 1929 with the premiere of his Feste romane, which the New York Philharmonic Orchestra performed under the direction of the great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957). This particular concert proved to be a significant milestone in Respighi‘s international career: Toscanini later recorded this work for RCA Victor in 1942 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and in 1949 with the NBC Symphony.

Given his formal training in musicology, it is not surprising that Respighi took a decided interest in researching and publishing modern editions of early music. His study of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century Italian music produced new editions of music of the Baroque masters Claudio Monteverdi, Benedetto Marcello, and Antonio Vivaldi. Not surprisingly, their music influenced the musical language of Respighi‘s Ancient Airs and Dances and Suite Gli uccelli (The Birds).

Read full preface > HERE

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