Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Sanctus from Pines of Rome: An intertextual re-imagining of Respighi’s off-stage trumpet solo

Publication Date



Music and Performing Arts, College of


Music, School of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Clare Eng

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Respighi’s Pines of Rome is a programmatic orchestral work that utilizes motifs and musical quotations to paint descriptive portraits, and sometimes, to suggest narratives. In the second movement of this work, “Pines near a catacomb,” Respighi creates a serene landscape of the moon rising over the desolate Roman catacombs. From the depths of the catacombs, a voice can be heard singing. Within the movement, this disembodied voice is portrayed by an offstage trumpet. Respighi has this solo trumpet play the melody of a traditional Sanctus, the Sanctus from Missa Cum Jubilo. This particular chant alludes to the Catholic liturgical tradition and represents the voices of clergy members buried within the catacombs. Thus, Respighi creates an intertextual connection between his work and the Catholic Liturgy of the Eucharist.

My BURS presentation features an original composition that is inspired by Respighi’s music. In my brass quintet piece, titled, “Sanctus from Pines of Rome,” Respighi’s offstage trumpet melody is presented in tandem with the original chant, represented in my piece by the French horn. This intertextual juxtaposition creates a new context for the melody. What begins as an unaccompanied French horn solo is transformed by the end of the work into a powerful hymn for the martyrs when Respighi’s trumpet melody is brought back as a heroic fanfare. Along this journey, different compositional techniques are employed to enhance the narrative. Imitative polyphony is used to suggest voices of the clergy during the development, while chromatic mediant modulations are used to create a sense of heroism by evoking similar modulations in popular film scores. The use of a modified sonata form creates an organized framework in which this thematic evolution can transpire. All of these elements work together to turn Respighi’s story into a brand--new musical narrative.

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