King's College London

Research portal

Don't Choose the Nightingale: Timbre, Index, and Birdsong in Respighi's Pini di Roma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Timbre
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018


  • schwartz-respighi

    schwartz_respighi.pdf, 304 KB, application/pdf


    Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


“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.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454