Ponchielli is perhaps best known for his ballet "The Dance of the Hours" from the opera La Gioconda. The ballet is perhaps more widely recognized as the Hippo Dance in Walt Disney’s movie Fantasia. Paolo e Virginia was written during March, 1877 while Ponchielli was in Rome for rehearsals of La Gioconda. The work may have some connection to a little known French opera of the same name by Victor Massé, which was premiered in Paris in 1876. The conclusion of this work is somewhat reminiscent of "The Dance of the Hours," perhaps because it was written only a year after La Gioconda was completed. Like other instrumental works of Ponchielli, it is characterized by a combination of operatic melodies and virtuoso technique in the instrumental parts.
(adapted from notes by Fred Ormand)
Pianist Erik Entwistle is a Ph.D. Candidate in Musicology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is preparing a dissertation on "Martinu in Paris."