OTTORINO RESPIGHI His Art Songs by Potito Pedarra The subject of Ottorino Respighis (Bologna, 1879 – Rome, 1936) vocal chamber music, “less ambitious yet more genuine and varied” (S. Martinotti) than the operatic one, has not yet been studied systematically, not even by the scholars and musicologists who have published many top-level essays on his music. Respighis art song production takes place in a “controversial moment of the history of Italy during the first thirty years of our century”: in those years this musical form , so popular especially in Germany, in Italy is “suffocated by Operas spreading” (Elio Battaglia). It is true that the German Lied and the Italian song are two musical forms of completely different type.
While in Austria Hugo Wolf (1860 – 1903) devoted himself almost exclusively to Lied composing, in Italy the canzone was still considered as a secondary chamber music form, just an entertainment, mere occasional music in a few words. Here, on the “crisis, nearly total, of the Italian Lied”, Ottorino Respighis experience was grafted, the musician being one of the most prolific composers of his generation. Until then this form was considered an almost exclusive prerogative of Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916), who, “in spite of his not so far-sighted intentions”, still seems to be “the most genuine song-writer in Italy, for, at least from a historical point of view, he does not cover himself with any intellectual cloth, as his contemporaries do” (Elio Battaglia). The lirica (song) represents for Respighi “a sort of a composers intimate journal” (A. Cant).
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