Ottorino Respighi

Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936) was an Italian composer, violinist, teacher, and musicologist and one of the leading Italian composers of the early 20th century. His compositions range over operas, ballets, orchestral suites, choral songs, chamber music, and transcriptions of Italian compositions of the 16th–18th centuries, but his best known and most performed works are his three orchestral tone poems which brought him international fame: Fountains of Rome (1916), Pines of Rome (1924), and Roman Festivals (1928).
Respighi was born in Bologna to a musical and artistic family. He was encouraged by his father to pursue music at a young age, and took formal tuition in the violin and piano. In 1891, he enrolled at the Liceo Musicale di Bologna, where he studied the violin, viola, and composition, was principal violinist at the Russian Imperial Theatre, and studied briefly with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He relocated to Rome in 1913 to become professor of composition at the Liceo Musicale di Santa Cecilia. During this period, he married his pupil, singer Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo. In 1923, Respighi quit his professorship to dedicate time to tour and compose, but continued to teach until 1935. He performed and conducted in various capacities across the United States and South America from 1925 until his death.
In late 1935, while composing his opera Lucrezia, Respighi became ill and was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis. He died four months later, aged 56. His wife Elsa outlived him for almost 60 years, championing her late husband’s works and legacy until her death in 1996. Conductor and composer Salvatore Di Vittorio completed several of Respighi’s incomplete and previously unpublished works, including the finished Violin Concerto in A major (1903) which premiered in 2010.

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