Ottorino Respighi (July 9, 1879 - April 18, 1936)

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of one of Agent Triple P's favourite composers, the Bologna born Ottorino Resphigi. Agent Triple P has spent a lot of time in Italy but has never met anyone called Ottorino! The name has an Ancient German root: "Autha" meaning "wealth".

Whilst we enjoy all of Resphigi's music our particular favourites are the three Ancient Airs and Dances suites. Although we are used to listening to them together they were composed some years apart: Suite No. 1 was composed in 1917, Number 2 in 1924 and the rather different strings-only Suite No. 3 in 1932.

Resphigi was a great collector and editor of Italian Renaissance music and these orchestrations of music by French and Italian composers Molinaro, Galilei (Galileo's father!), Besard, Gianoncelli, Rocalli and others is, for us, hugely evocative of the time we spent in Rome in the late 1980s.

Our favourite version is the 1976 recording by Neville Mariner and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. We owned this on cassette and we had many happy hours in Rome wandering around the Roman Forum and listening to it on our Walkman. We remember one particularly hot afternoon in August lying on the marble around the edge of an ancient pool on the Palatine Hill with Princess B and listening to Ancient Airs and Dances through shared earphones. We had just had an enormous lunch at La Toscana restaurant and had collapsed in companionable and rather drunken silence. The Palatine Hill (especially in August) is Triple P's favourite part of Ancient Rome as it is possible to escape (or at least distance) the ever-present sound of the traffic. The sense of ancient place, the wine (Gavi di Gavi La Scolca, of course), the heat and the music combined to generate a sense of well being that we have rarely matched. Returning to our suite at the Grand Hotel and having a cool bath with Princess B finished off the afternoon in a suitably langourous way.

We spent many years looking for the CD of this performance. It was not available in Britain at the time we were looking for it but we eventually found it at HMV in Montreal in about 1995. It is, however, now available in Britain

It would undoutedly be one of our eight Desert Island Discs for its music and the fond memories it engenders.
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