Capriccio Italien Op.45
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

162

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Tchaikovsky is the third most popular composer in the Ultimate Hall of Fame, along with Elgar. This is the second of his 12 entries, which reached its highest ever position of 127 as recently as 2013.

Tchaikovsky's fantasy for orchestra is a richly descriptive portrait of Italy, written when the composer spent three months in Rome in 1880.

While in the Eternal City, he saw the Carnivale in full swing, and soaked up the Italian folk music and street songs. He incorporates them quite freely in the piece and even makes use of a bugle call that he overheard from his hotel played by an Italian cavalry regiment.

Capriccio Italien opens in somber mood but high spirits soon kick in and the merrymaking begins. Although it's not one of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores, it's hard to resist moving to the piece's infectious rhythmic energy.

By the end, you and all of Rome are dancing a tarantella in the streets.