Riccardo Zandonai was a well-known musical figure in Italy in the mid-eighteenth century, principally for his melodramatic operas. Not many people know that he also composed some very good instrumental music, which indeed enjoyed a certain success in his own time. After his death, however, these compositions were written off as merely unimportant exercises. These instrumental compositions signified different things to Zandonai himself in different periods of his life. When he was young, his instrumental music gave him occasion to develop his talent beyond the academic learning of his school days and offered him the cachet of a well-rounded musician. When he was older, it provided a hedge against the crisis in the opera world which had ruined the fortunes of other musicians. It also afforded him a creative outlet. Zandonai always preferred to write music for large orchestras. As a conductor he contributed to the popularity of his own many and varied orchestral pieces. These included symphonic poems, concert pieces, and pieces from his operas re-worked for concert performances, which became very popular and circulated widely. mHis chamber music was quite different. Here the small size of the chamber orchestra allowed him to concentrate on the minute niceties of theme and phrasing, to control tone-colour, and to assume a confessional intimacy.