Today’s bit for history involves the birthday of the composer Ottorino Respighi, born in 1879 in the town of Oscar Mayer Bologna, Italy.
I really have no idea if he liked or ate sandwiches; and if he did, what type of luncheon meat he might have preferred… but I’m guessing olive loaf was right out of the question…
The web has him listed as a violinist… and while I certainly have no reason to take exception with that, I’ve only ever known of him as a composer.
I offer, for your consideration, his piece known as the Pines of Rome.
And if I may also offer a bit of personal history, I first performed this piece from the 1st violin section as a sophomore in high school…
I was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and we were accompanying the annual Junior and Senior High School All-State Choruses.
The Junior Choir sang first, and then while the Senior choir got ready, the ASYO came on stage and did the Pines.
Imagine a bunch of high school orchestra students getting near, but not all the way to, the end of this piece, with a packed Symphony Hall full of choral parents on their feet, cheering and clapping and stomping.
The 1st violins still had a page and a half of music left to play.
I couldn’t hear the orchestra for the audience… and I was sitting in that orchestra…
It was the most awesome, awe-inspiring event of my young life.
And a definite, personal and physical manifestation of the concept of exaltation.
I still get shivers thinking about it, even after all these *mumble grumble* years…
The Senior Choir came out and did their thing after we’d finished, but I felt bad for them.
How do you follow something like that?
And then the Juniors came back, and the orchestra accompanied both choirs in something or the other… I really don’t remember what it was…
I was vibrating faster than a violin string… appropriately enough…
Talk about a buzz!
Of course, the experience never repeated itself.
Not that I wasn’t again and again a member of groups that deserved such a response.
It was just the conjunction of circumstances, the alignment of the planets… a perfect storm of audience reaction.
Since then, I’ve learned which performances were the truly worthy ones.
Many of them with artists you will never have heard of; even if you’re in the business.
That didn’t stop them, or me, from given everything we had, each and every night.
That’s a right valuable life lesson to have handed to you.
Especially at such a young age…
Image found here.