Trittico Botticelliano

From Wind Repertory Project
Ottorino Respighi

Ottorino Respighi (trans. Scott Hanna)

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General Info

Year: 1927 / 201?
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. La Primavera
2. L'adorazione dei Magi
3. La nascita di Venere


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Although the theme of The Adoration of the Magi is recognizable as the carol O come, O come, Emmanuel, Respighi’s mind was not on the Advent season. Rather, the three movements of the Trittico Botticelliano each take their inspiration from a different painting by Sandro Botticelli, renowned artist of the Italian Renaissance. The first and third are likely familiar: La primavera (Spring) and La nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus). The middle part of the triptych, L’adorazione dei Magi, is less humanistic and more traditional, with its subject from the Book of Matthew. The three “wise men” who visit the infant Jesus in Bethlehem are often named as Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar, but Botticelli based his figures on the likenesses of three important members of the Medici family: Cosimo the Elder and his sons, Piero and Giovanni. Various other elites of Florence appear in their entourages, including the banker who commissioned the painting and the current scion of the Medici, Lorenzo (son of Piero). This seems to have mattered less to Respighi, however, than the common understanding of the Magi as kings of Arabia, Persia, and India. To quote another carol than the one Respighi selected: “we three kings of Orient are bearing gifts.” Respighi immediately signals the Magi’s origins in the East with a number of familiar exoticisms. The bassoon and oboe, with their resonant yet reedy timbres, spin out a winding melody, spiced with “Oriental”-sounding chromaticism. The flute then joins in with whirling arabesques before the strings introduce the main theme. Although the lyrics of the English-language carol may be more familiar, given Respighi’s interest in “ancient” music and art, he was likely thinking of the fifteenth-century Latin hymn Veni Emmanuel. Either way one hears it, Respighi’s colorful orchestration is fascinating, filled with nuances that mirror the subtlety of Botticelli’s palette. In particular, the prominence of bells, harp, celesta, and triangle add another touch of exoticism. In the end, the oboe and bassoon return with a gently swaying melody, like a lullaby for the Christ child, surrounded by a shimmering halo of strings. - Program Note for orchestral version by Katherine Baber for the Redlands Symphony


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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