Watch “Ottorino Respighi – Fontane di Roma / The Fountains of Rome” on YouTube

Fountains of Rome(symphonic poem)

1916 Symphonic poem by Ottorino Respighi

Fountains of Rome (Italian: Fontane di Roma) is a symphonic poem written by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighiin 1916 and first published in 1918. It is the first orchestral work in his “Roman trilogy”, followed by Pines of Rome (1924) and Roman Festivals(1928). Each of the four movements depicts one of Rome’s fountains at a different time of the day. Its premiere was held on March 11, 1917 at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome under the direction of Antonio Guarnieri.


The first section, The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn (La fontana di Valle Giulia all’Alba), shows this fountain at daybreak in a pastoral landscape which cattle pass through during the morning.

In the second section, The Triton Fountain in the Morning (La fontana del Tritone al mattino), depicts Naiads and Tritons dancing in the morning light, as figures of the Bernini fountain are seen nearby. Gods and goddesses using conch shells are portrayed by the French horn.

The third section, The Trevi Fountain at Noon (La fontana di Trevi al meriggio), is ushered in by a triumph giving news of a recent victory by the god Neptune.

The final section, The Villa MediciFountain at Sunset (La fontana di Villa Medici al tramonto), portrays a much more melancholic atmosphere, as the brilliance of the sun fades.


Fountains of Rome calls for the following large orchestra:

It was also transcribed for piano duetby the composer.

Performances and Recordings

Arturo Toscanini originally planned to conduct the work in 1916, but the Italian composer refused to appear for the performance after a disagreement over his having included some of Wagner’s music on a program played during World War I.[clarification needed]Consequently, it did not premiere until March 11, 1917 at the Teatro Augusteo in Rome with Antonio Guarnieri as conductor. Although the premiere was unsuccessful, Toscanini finally conducted the work in Milan in 1918 with tremendous success.

The piece was first performed in the United States on February 13, 1919. Toscanini recorded the music with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall in 1951; the high fidelity monaural recording was issued on LP and then digitally remastered for release on CD by RCA Victor. The work has since become one of the most eminent examples of the symphonic poem.

The Second Movement appears on the Hong Kong Film Studios Feng Hua as intro.


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