Ottorino Respighi

Fontane di Roma (The Fountains of Rome), symphonic poem, P. 106

    Description by Meredith Gailey

    Ottorino Respighi explained that he composed his symphonic poem Fontane di Roma (The Fountains of Rome), "to reproduce by means of tone an expression of nature," and to impart a feeling for the "principal events of Roman life." Based upon the sentiments and visions suggested to him by four of Rome's fountains, he noted in the score that each movement was "contemplated at the hour in which their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape or in which their beauty appears most impressive to the observer." The poem is remembered as his most creative turning point, as it constituted his first great success as an orchestral composer and has become his best known work.

    Respighi arrived in Rome in 1913, when it was becoming Italy's most vigorous center of orchestral concert-giving, thus providing stimulation for Fontane di Roma. Prior to his arrival there, he taught at the Bologna Liceo Musicale. While in Bologna, he associated with the lega dei Cinque, an anti-establishment pressure-group, whose members included Pizzetti, Malipiero, Bastianelli, and Renzo Bossi. Although he had studied violin as a child, during this time he was more active as a piano accompanist than as a string player. When he was denied a permanent post in Bologna, he applied elsewhere, gaining a position as professor of composition at the Liceo Musicale di S Cecilia, Rome. He flourished there as a teacher. His students included Elsa Olivieri, whom he married in 1919. Rome, in its positive stage of musical development, provided Respighi with the perfect opportunity to present Fontane di Roma, which, although not immediately accepted, eventually brought him enormous success, wealth, and reputation.

    In Rome, where the water has been good since ancient times, fountains carrying public water are an attraction in nearly every square. The fountains about which Respighi wrote, as well as many others in the area, were actually created in the Baroque style in the seventeenth century by the sculptor Bernini. The first part of the poem is inspired by the "Fountain of Valle Giulia" and depicts its peaceful pastoral landscape, where cattle pass at dawn. Blasts of horns and trills from the orchestra conjure up the image of joyful tritons and water-nymphs mingling and splashing at the "Triton Fountain." The "Fountain of Trevi" at midday, with a solemn theme, assumes a triumphal character depicting Neptune's chariot passing across the water, drawn by seahorses, followed by tritons and sirens. Finally, birds sing and bells toll to close the day at the "Villa Medici Fountain."

    The work had its first performance in Rome on March 11, 1917, and in the United States on February 13, 1919. Shortly thereafter, Respighi was appointed director of the now state-funded Conservatorio di S Cecilia. Fontane di Roma has become inseparably linked with two additional symphonic poems, Pini di Roma (1923-1924) and Feste romane (1929), which were intentionally written as sequels. These works continue to have international success.

    Parts/Movements

    1. La fontana di Valle Giulia all'alba
    2. La fontana del Tritone al mattino
    3. La fontana di Trevi al meriggio
    4. La fontana di Villa Medici al tramonto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2016 Supraphon SU 41992
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796018
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94900
    2014 Sony Classical 88843047122
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4793446
    2014 APO (Analogue Production Originals) CAPC 2436 SA
    2013 Decca / Mercury 4785092
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94392
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 Urania WS121.111
    2011 Newton Classics 8802048
    2011 Onyx ONYX 4083
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909798823
    2011 Warner Classics
    2010 Ondine 1165
    2010 BIS 1720
    2010 Decca
    2010 Klavier Records 11182
    2010 Exton 00217
    2010 Apex
    2010 Classic Records 2015
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923767
    2008 Apex 4696152
    2008 Decca 443759
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 727987
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0946394429
    2007 Exton 217
    2007 Music & Arts CD1192
    2006 Brilliant 7565
    2006 RCA Red Seal 71614
    2006 Decca 000771602
    2005 Stradivarius 33688
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243586549
    2004 Rca Red Seal 82876608692
    2003 Past Perfect 205633
    2003 History 45515
    2002 Aura Classics 0250
    2002 Cascavelle 6150
    2002 Sony Music 48267
    2002 Telarc Distribution 80085
    2002 Chandos 10035
    2002 Mark Custom Recording 4363
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 469 181-2GP2
    2001 Delos 3287
    2001 JVC Compact Discs 8
    2001 Unesco 70722
    2000 T-Rax 29
    2000 Telarc Distribution 80505
    2000 Q Disc 97015
    1999 Rene Gailly 87157
    1999 Seraphim Classics
    1999 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243573291
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 55062
    1998 Dutton Laboratories 5019
    1998 Testament 1108
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 449724
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 55600
    1997 Conifer 75605 51292-2
    1996 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243569358
    1995 RCA Victor 68079
    1995 Vanguard EVC9018
    1994 BMG 62675
    1994 Naxos 550539
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437534
    1993 Naxos 550539
    1992 Chandos 8989
    1992 SBK Records 48267
    1991 Chesky Records 18
    1990 Mercury 432007
    1990 Mercury
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 47316
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 415846
    1984 Decca
    1983 London 410145
    History 204565
    Koch 7704
    RCA 72374
    RFCM Symphony Orchestra
    Decca 000837002
    Decca 97015
    Past Perfect 205638
    Pearl 9922
    RCA Silver Seal 60486
    London 444106
    Philips 432133
    Warner Music
    Bescol 521
    RCA 61401
    RCA 5407
    Deutsche Grammophon 413822
    Alfa 1010
    Teldec 18970
    RCA 60262
    Teldec 9031762632
    BBC Music Magazine 277
    EMI Music Distribution 69831
    Fono Teca 971103
    UBS 2006