Blue Mountains Rhapsody is based on folk themes of the Marche region in Italy. With this composition the author concludes a trilogy of works that started with Variazioni sul Tema Lamenti followed by Suite Marchigiana. The title is inspired by the Appennines Mountains, which the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi named Blue Mountains because of the typical color that they acquire in certain hours of the day.
The piece starts with an introduction based on melodies of the canti a batocco (a type of call and response singing typical of the Marche; batocco literally means tongue of the bell), which were performed by a man and a woman and demanded special vocal skills and considerable experience. The canti a batocco, so named because they attempt to imitate the sound of bells, were characteristic of the period of corn shucking, which was nothing else but a social gathering of farm families to husk corn. The corn was collected and spread on the farmyard arranged in a circle. The participating farmers, while husking the corn, used to sing this type of songs, a kind of "give and take" between the man and the woman, who began the folk song with a particular intonation. The song was then repeated by the man who, however, used a different intonation. The lyrics of these songs usually provoke a beloved who rejects the courtship of her sweetheart, or ridicule two women rivals in love or beauty.
The second movement is the version in compound meter (6/8) of the Pasquella, a typical melody of the hilly area in the province of Macerata, where the author was born and resides. It is an ancient ritual song associated with the collecting of alms. According to tradition, during the winter solstice, groups of singers went from house to house singing verses in a repetitive way, as a wish for health, well-being, and abundance, in exchange for small donations of money, food, and wine. In this case the arranged theme is inspired by a pastoral and bucolic atmosphere.
The third movement is based on an old song entitled Ero avvezza d’andare alla messa (I was accustomed to going to Mass), which relies on the popular tradition of the Laments. These were songs that, belonging to the traditional vein of melancholy songs, describe unhappy love and grief for the loss of loved ones.
The last movement, Allegro, is built on a variation of the melody of the Canzone del Pellegrino (Song of the Pilgrim). It is a joyful song that narrates the arrival of the Pilgrims who were asking for hospitality in the homes of peasants from the Marche.