Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) remains one of the most popular - and controversial - Italian composers of the 20th century: a man caught in time between the high Romantic drama of his predecessors Verdi and Puccini, and the Futurism and avant-garde musical experiments of his later compatriots Dallapiccola, Berio and Scelsi.
Respighi chose a different route - his work often infused with the music of a halcyon past. Many of Respighi's work look back to the Italian Baroque - some even to Gregorian chant. Yet they remain charmingly, distinctively blended with his own 20th-century musical language. Respighi's "Roman Trilogy" - comprising the colourful orchestral pieces "Fountains of Rome", "Pines Of Rome" and "Roman Festivals" - are amongst the most-performed concert showpieces of the last 100 years, and notoriously were among Benito Mussolini most cherished pieces of music. Yet his other works are largely unknown to the general public.
This week Donald Macleod - like Respighi - takes a path less trodden as he presents a series of lesser-known masterpieces from the pen of this Italian master.
In the first programme of the week, he explores Respighi's rise to fame in the first decade of the 20th century, and his relationship with his lifelong muse, his wife Elsa.