Respighi’s work is a typical example of the pictorial compositional technique. In each movement of the work, the composer associates an image, a mood or a historical scene with a characteristic place in Rome. In the first movement, the spacious gardens of Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s most popular parks, provide the backdrop for the musical depiction of a big group of children playing, teasing each other and creating a noisy confusion.
The second movement evokes the atmosphere of the Fantastic Symphony and Pictures at an Exhibition. The mystery of the catacombs is then revealed through evoking Gregorian chants.
In the third movement, the pines of the Gianicolo Hill evoke the atmosphere of a sultry night scene, with the song of the nightingale at the end of the scene heralding the arrival of dawn.
In the last movement, the image of a historical memory is outlined as the victorious and glorious Roman army marches towards the Capitoline Hill.