Abstract and Keywords
“I Pini del Gianicolo,” the third movement of Ottorino Respighi’s Pini di Roma (1924), is the first symphonic composition to feature a phonograph record alongside more conventional orchestral instruments, a peculiar innovation debated by both early listeners and more recent scholars. This chapter seeks to capture Respighi’s use of a pre-recorded nightingale within a wide interpretive net, considering the status of orchestration and signification in early twentieth-century instrumental and dramatic music; the medial history of Respighi’s nightingale; as well as other attempts to combine the animal, mechanical, and musical in the months around the work’s premiere. Birdsong—real, represented, and recorded—might prompt further reflection on the peculiar materiality of timbre, whose mysteries, this chapter suggests, could also be considered the subject of Respighi’s work.
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