Church Windows

From Wind Repertory Project
Ottorino Respighi

Ottorino Respighi (trans. José Schyns)

Subtitle: Four Symphonic Impressions

This work is also known by its Italian title, Vetrate di Chiesa. It bears the designation P.150.

General Info

Year: 1926 / 2007
Duration: c. 26:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Baton Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €260.00   |   Score Only (print) - €64.00


1. La Fuga in Egitto (The Flight into Egypt) – 5:30
2. San Michele Arcangelo (St. Michael Archangel) – 6:39
3. Il Mattutino di Santa Chiara (The Matins of St. Clare) – 5:24
4. San Gregorio Magno (St. Gregory the Great) – 9:30


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
E-flat Piccolo Trumpet
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-tam (3)
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Inspired by one of his students and his later wife, Ottorino Respighi composed in 1922 'Vetrate di Chiesa' (The Church Windows). This four movement Symphonic Suite is based on Gregorian melodies. It's a typical Respighi composition, with all of his characteristic colours, extreme dynamics and beautiful melodies.

- Program Note from publisher

Respighi composed Vetrata di Chiesa in 1926. The first three movements were based on Tre preludi sopra melodie gregoriane for piano, composed in 1921. Respighi consulted a literature professor, Claudio Guastalia, to help him find a title and subtitles for the orchestrated version. Guastalia’s mental images upon hearing the music are the source of the quotations before each movement, which describes the drama of a major church event as depicted in the stained glass windows of Italian churches.

1. The Flight into Egypt. The little caravan proceeds through the desert in a starry night, bearing the Treasure of the World. Respighi captures the swaying hesitation of a donkey stepping over loose stones against exotic Middle Eastern modal melody.

2. St. Michael the Archangel. And a great battle was made in the heavens; Michael and his angels fought with the dragon and his angels. But these did not prevail, and there was no more place for them in Heaven. In this mini-tone poem, the opening glissandi in the strings and fanfare in the brass are a none-too-subtle quote from Wagner -- only here for angels, not Valkyries. The melody in the lower brass is a Gregorian chant. The trombone melody appears to signal the arrival of the Archangel.

3. The Matins of St. Clare. But Jesus Christ, her bridegroom, not wishing to leave her thus disconsolate, had her miraculously transported by angels to the church of St. Francis, to be at the service of Matins. St. Claire founded an order of nuns whose dedication to poverty mirrored that of St. Francis of Assisi. This quote is taken from The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Respighi creates a meditative melody, reflecting the tranquility of the monastic life. At other times when Claire was too ill to attend mass, she could visualize it on the wall of her cell. In witness whereof, in 1958 Pope Pius XII made her the patron saint of television.

4. St. Gregory the Great. Behold the Pontiff! ... Bless the Lord ... Sing the hymn to God. Alleluia! Pope Gregory (540-604) was known for his ecclesiastical writings and for what for many years was thought to be his contribution to the sung liturgy of the Catholic Church. This movement is a fantasia on one of the chants for the Gloria of the mass. It proceeds like a procession, heard in the distance, growing ever louder and more pompous.

- Program Note from Symphony Orchestra Augusta (Ga.) concert program, 27 September 2013


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Perusal score
  • Respighi, O.; Schyns, J. (2007). Vetrate di Chiesa : Four Symphonic Impressions [score]. Baton Music: Eindhoven, Netherlands.