Brass parts in O. Respighi's
PINI DI ROMA
(PINES OF ROME)

 

Respighi's Pines of Rome is a marvelous piece, full of brilliant brass writing. But it often seems almost impossible to figure out exactly what personnel is necessary to play those brass parts. They are a mixture of the standard orchestra brass section and something called buccine (or flicorni) in various sizes ... and then there are also substitution parts and cue notes to replace the buccine.

The decision of how to distribute these parts is often made haphazardly, because:

After performing this piece several times, and spending many hours poring over score and all the parts (except for the 2nd and 4th horns, which — admirably — were out of my reach, being practiced at the homes of members of our horn section!), I think I have figured out what Respighi wanted ... and what he would settle for if he didn't get everything he wanted.

BRIEF SUMMARY: The piece can be correctly performed with as many as 18 brass players (the ideal) or as few as 14 (the absolute minimum). When there are 17 or 18 brass players, six of them play the so-called buccina parts, using four fluegelhorns and two tenor tubas (euphoniums or baritones). See the tables 1 and 2 below for a detailed explanation.

In case any other orchestral trumpeters are trying to puzzle out the same piece, I am posting my conclusions here on the Web. I'd be glad to hear any comments and suggestions — write me at the e-mail address below.

Douglas McClure
(principal trumpet, Royal Symphonic Orchestra of Seville, Spain)
webmaster@dmcclure.org

 

 

TABLE 1.  Brass parts included with Respighi's "Pini di Roma"
(Corni V and VI and Tromba IV do not appear in the conductor's score)

  • CORNO I.
  • CORNO II.
  • CORNO III.
  • CORNO IV.
  • in sostituzione delle Buccine CORNO V.
    [to be played only when the six buccina parts are not used]
  • in sostituzione delle Buccine CORNO VI.
    [to be played only when the six buccina parts are not used]
  • TROMBA INTERNA [OFFSTAGE TRUMPET] in Do
  • TROMBA I.
  • TROMBA II.
  • TROMBA III
  • in sostituzione delle Buccine TROMBA IV. in Si bemolle
    [to be played only when the six buccina parts are not used]
  • BUCCINA I. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO SOPRANO)
    [in treble clef — probably best played on B-flat fluegelhorn]
  • BUCCINA II. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO SOPRANO)
    [in treble clef— probably best played on B-flat fluegelhorn]
  • BUCCINA I. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO TENORE)
    [in treble clef — probably best played on B-flat fluegelhorn]
  • BUCCINA II. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO TENORE)
    [in treble clef — probably best played on B-flat fluegelhorn]
  • BUCCINA I. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO BASSO)
    [in bass clef — probably best played on euphonium or baritone]
  • BUCCINA II. in Si bemolle (o FLICORNO BASSO)
    [in bass clef — probably best played on euphonium or baritone]
  • TROMBONE I.
  • TROMBONE II.
  • TROMBONE III.
  • TUBA BASSA

The tromba interna part should be played offstage. (There is no doubt about what Respighi meant; "tromba interna" simply means "offstage trumpet". And the musical effect, from the audience's point of view, is far superior when played offstage.) Some personnel costs may be saved by having the first (or perhaps fourth) trumpeter also play the tromba interna, walking offstage and back on during the third movement. Or if the buccina parts are used, one of the fluegelhornists may play the tromba interna (on trumpet, however, not fluegelhorn).

Respighi presumably used the word buccina only for its poetic and evocative value; the original Roman buccina could not have played all those chromatic notes. The instruments he actually wants are specified quite precisely:

The flicorni bassi parts may cause some initial confusion, as they are written in B-flat, but in bass clef. That is, they are to sound one whole-step below the written notes. It may be necessary to recopy the parts for players accustomed to reading in C (bass clef) or B-flat (treble clef).

The six buccina parts play only in the fourth movement. Some costs can be saved if the buccina parts are not used. In that case, two extra horns (V and VI) and an extra trumpet (IV) MUST be used, and the regular horns (I, ?II, III and ?IV) and trumpets (II and III) must play the cue notes marked "in luogo delle Buccine".

Some conductors and brass players may be misled by the first indication for the soprano buccine in the fifth bar of rehearsal number 20: "isolate e chiuse (suoni come da lontano)", that is, "isolated and stopped [or muted] (should sound as in the distance)". However, they should probably NOT be offstage, because the very next entrance — just three bars later — is already louder and marked "aperte" ("open"). In any case, the piece gets very loud by the end, so it is certainly preferable to have the buccine onstage.

It is up to the players and the conductor to decide whether the aforementioned first entrance of the soprano buccine should actually be stopped or muted, or just played softly. My suggestion is that they should aim their bells into the music stand for that phrase only (the fifth, sixth and seventh bars after rehearsal number 20). They should avoid getting their bells too close to the stand, or their intonation will suffer.

In any case, when the buccina parts are NOT used, all the brass MUST remain onstage (except for the tromba interna in the third movement). Even if, for some reason, the conductor considers that the original (now absent) buccina parts should be offstage, when the three substitute parts (5th and 6th horn and 4th trumpet) are used instead it would not be a good idea to have them offstage because they do not cover the entirety of the buccina parts. The remaining buccina notes are covered by cue notes in the regular horns and trumpets, for whom moving offstage just for those cues would be impossible.

 

 

TABLE 2.  Possible brass personnel for Respighi's "Pini di Roma"

18 Brass

(ideal)

17 Brass

The first trumpet player moves off- and onstage during the 3rd movement.

17 Brass

One of the players begins offstage, playing the tromba interna (on trumpet); then he/she switches to fluegelhorn and (if the buccine are to play onstage) goes onstage for the 4th movement. Since he/she is playing two different instruments, he/she may be entitled to a doubling fee.

15 Brass

14 Brass

The first (or possibly fourth) trumpet player moves off- and onstage during the 3rd movement.

The tromba interna plays offstage in the 3rd movement.
The buccine may play either onstage (preferred) or offstage in the 4th movement.
The tromba interna plays offstage in the 3rd movement.
The buccine may play either onstage (preferred) or offstage in the 4th movement.
The buccine parts are not used. The fourth trumpet and fifth & sixth horn parts are used.
The tromba interna plays offstage in the 3rd movement..
All other brass stay onstage and play any buccina cue notes they have in the 4th movement.
  • Corno I.
  • Corno II.
  • Corno III.
  • Corno IV.
  • Corno I.
  • Corno II.
  • Corno III.
  • Corno IV.
  • Corno I.
  • Corno II.
  • Corno III.
  • Corno IV.
  • Corno I. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Corno II. (play the buccina cue notes, if any)
  • Corno III. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Corno IV. (play the buccina cue notes, if any)
  • Corno V.
  • Corno VI.
  • Corno I. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Corno II. (play the buccina cue notes, if any)
  • Corno III. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Corno IV. (play the buccina cue notes, if any)
  • Corno V.
  • Corno VI.
  • Tromba interna (offstage)
   
  • Tromba interna (offstage)
 
  • Tromba I.
  • Tromba II.
  • Tromba III.
  • Tromba I. (onstage), also playing the Tromba interna (offstage)
  • Tromba II.
  • Tromba III.
  • Tromba I.
  • Tromba II.
  • Tromba III.
  • Tromba I.
  • Tromba II. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Tromba III. (play the buccina cue  notes)
  • Tromba IV.
  • Tromba I. (onstage), also playing the Tromba interna (offstage)
  • Tromba II. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Tromba III. (play the buccina cue notes)
  • Tromba IV.
  • Soprano buccina I. (fluegelhorn)
  • Soprano buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina I. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Bass buccina I. (euphonium or baritone)
  • Bass buccina II. (euphonium or baritone)
  • Soprano buccina I. (fluegelhorn)
  • Soprano buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina I. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Bass buccina I. (euphonium or baritone)
  • Bass buccina II. (euphonium or baritone)
  • Soprano buccina I. (fluegelhorn), also playing Tromba interna (offstage, on trumpet)
  • Soprano buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina I. (fluegelhorn)
  • Tenor buccina II. (fluegelhorn)
  • Bass buccina I. (euphonium or baritone)
  • Bass buccina II. (euphonium or baritone)
   
  • Trombone I.
  • Trombone II.
  • Trombone III.
  • Trombone I.
  • Trombone II.
  • Trombone III.
  • Trombone I.
  • Trombone II.
  • Trombone III.
  • Trombone I.
  • Trombone II.
  • Trombone III.
  • Trombone I.
  • Trombone II.
  • Trombone III.
  • Tuba bassa
  • Tuba bassa
  • Tuba bassa
  • Tuba bassa
  • Tuba bassa