Viola Concerto (Tre aspetti di Roma)
Ever since 1972, when I had spent twelve months undertaking advanced studies in musical composition in Rome, it had been in my mind to write a work celebrating the Eternal City and, following a suggestion from violist Patricia Pollett (for whom the work was written, and who premiered it with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under Wilfred Lehmann) a viola concerto seemed an ideal work in which to do this.
Of the countless possibilities that Rome has to offer, I finally chose three “aspects” which not only had particular significance for me personally, but which would help determine the character of each of the concerto’s movements.
The ideas for the first movement, cast in traditional sonata form, were excited by the small piazza known as the Campo dei Fiori (Field of the Flowers). This piazza seems to symbolise the often violent history of Roman life through the ages. A grim reminder of this is provided by the statue of Giordano Bruno who was executed there in 1600 for promoting the Copernican view of the universe in which the sun, not the earth, was held to be at the centre.
The second movement, in extended aria-form, was inspired by Il Pincio. This is the name of the exquisite gardens found above the Piazza del Popolo. From the terrace one can look out over the awe-inspiring panorama to the dome of St.Peter’s in the distance – a view seen at its best at sunset and one never to be forgotten.
For the third movement, a rondo, I turned to the district of the Trastevere (Across the Tiber) particularly the Piazza di Santa Maria. Here, with its raised fountain, sidewalk cafes and its church (thought to have been the first dedicated to Mary in probably the fourth century) one can experience a vibrancy of life-style that seems to beat in sympathy with the very heart of the Eternal City.