Editor’s Note: Ottorino Respighi composed his Trittico Botticelliano (Three Botticelli Pictures) in 1927. Each of the three movements of the work is based on a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli. The middle movement, “L’Adorazione dei Magi,” depicts Botticelli’s famous nativity scene, which interestingly uses a backdrop of the ruins of Ancient Rome, and which includes the artist’s portrait of himself at the extreme right of the painting, looking at the viewer. Well-known for his skills of orchestration, Respighi infuses “The Adoration of the Magi” with much color and atmosphere, setting woodwinds, keyboards, and percussion against strings, and making use of the well-known tune of “Veni Emmanuel” (“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”).
The other movements of Trittico Botticelliano are “La Primavera” (“Spring”) and “La nascita di Venere” (“The Birth of Venus”).
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