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ProduitsPartitions pour guitare4 guitaresAncient Airs and Dances

NouveauAncient Airs and Dances

Ancient Airs and Dances

Compositeur: RESPIGHI Ottorino

Arrangeur: AGOSTINO Janet

DZ 3967


ISBN: 978-2-89795-884-8

4 guitares

52 p. + parties séparées


Set 1

Balletto detto “Il Conte Orlando”: Simone Molinaro

Italiana (from Gagliarda): anon. / Vincenzo Galilei

Villanella: anonymous

Passo mezzo e Mascherada: anonymous

Set 2

Laura soave: balletto con gagliarda: Fabritio Caroso

Danza rustica: Jean-Baptiste Besard

Campanae parisienses e aria: anon. / Antoine Boësset

Bergamasca: Bernardo Gianoncelli


The Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) is known for introducing rich orchestral colour into Italian music. His love of Renaissance and Baroque music inspired him to compose three orchestral suites, “Ancient Airs and Dances”, derived from a collection of transcriptions made by the Italian musicologist Oscar Chilesotti. “Ancient Airs and Dances” Set 1 was based on solo lute works of the sixteenth century, Set 2 was based on seventeenth century works for lute, archlute and viol and Set 3, arranged from lute and baroque guitar music, was scored for strings alone. Respighi also arranged sets 1 and 2 for piano four hands.


Many classical guitarists are familiar with lute works of the Renaissance. Typically, several of these melodies began life as vocal works, arranged by lutenists of the day in order to add to their repertoire. Respighi’s expanded orchestral versions bring these works into a new and colourful light, employing a full range of orchestral instrumentation, altering the rhythmic metre, creating parallel melodic lines in different keys and embedding several of the lute works into one movement.


Ancient Airs and Dance Set 1 was premiered in 1917 and Set 2, in 1923. The year 2020 represents a midpoint between the creation of these two sets, exactly a century on. My arrangements are positioned between two cultural forces: the original lute repertoire from four centuries ago, and Respighi’s twentieth century recreations of this repertoire. In a further transformation, my arrangements for guitar ensemble aim, metaphorically, to bring this music ‘home’ to its original plucked and fretted context, whilst at the same time, infusing the rich colours, sounds and texture of Respighi’s imaginative orchestrations.



This arrangement was created for the Dillington Guitar Festival, Ilminster, UK, in August 2020. However, due to the Co-Vid 19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions, the Festival was cancelled.

My deep gratitude to colleagues Richard Charlton and Giuseppe Zangari who joined Raffaele Agostino and me in producing a demonstration recording of all eight movements on 12th July 2020 at Ascham School, Edgecliff, NSW.

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