Son of Bolognese culture, for his eclectic nature, Respighi tries to waken the Italian musical panorama by proposing the symphonic and instrumental genre.

Maria Chiara Mazzi

When we think about Bolognese music, what probably comes to mind first are names of protagonists of today's light music (Dalla, Morandi, Carboni, etc.). When we think, on the other hand, about powerful music, the name that comes to mind is that of Padre Martini, who gave his name to the Conservatory, and then of so many other distinguished individuals, though not born in Bologna, but who have influenced the culture of the city (Mozart, Rossini, Wagner). Ottorino Respighi is not a name that is remembered as well. But, not only is he born in Bologna in 1879, he has also studied and taught at the Liceo Musicale, and was buried in the Cimitero Monumentale della Certosa. He was born at the end of the street, later named Largo Respighi, which was to the left of the Teatro Communale. He received his diploma from the Liceo Musicale where he studied piano, violin and composition. An itinerary seemingly common to many students. But, Ottorino studies with Martucci and Torchi, those who, in Italy, have tried to waken the musical panorama by introducing, other than the omnipresent melodrama, Austrian and German instrumental music.

Son of Bolognese culture for his eclectic nature, Respighi needs more challenge and leaves for Russia, where he will play violin at the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburgh, and study with Rimskij-Korsakov. After Russia, he will go to Berlin, where he will also play and take lessons with a renown musician, Max Bruch. Given this experience, his predilection for the symphonic and instrumental genre seems inevitable (even if melodrama is to be found in his repertory, particularly at the beginning of his career, it is later no longer part of it). Who does not remember the Fontane di Roma, the Pini di Roma and the Feste romane, maybe among the best known Italian pages for orchestra?

Respighi takes anything that is useful in European music from the end of the nineteenth century to create an Italian instrumental genre, the Russian symphonic nature, the Austro-German constructiveness, the colouristic orchestral ability of the French. With this, he reinvents the Gregorian and ancient Renaissance music to create a language that is unusual, new, and fresh, the musical equivalent of the contemporary architectural and literary mode. Respighi was to be very appreciated by the Regime because his works was interpreted in terms of nationalism (though it was not nationalistic), this ended up hurting him later in the judgement of his music.

In 1936, Respighi died in Rome (where he was teaching at the Santa Cecilia Academy), and therefore could not demonstrate, like others, a true stylistic evolution. He remained however linked to Bologna, where he had begun his career and where he became, as a testimony of his being Bolognese, honorary associate of the oldest Bolognese society, the Fameja Bulgneisa. His is buried in Bologna, close to Carducci who, like him, had tried to reinvent the old in order to build a new vision of the art.