Dante’s Descent is based on parts of Dante’s novel. It is a musical sketch of the composer’s imagination of the first part: Inferno.
The piece contains six scenes’s in five sections. The first section sets of the story with “mi ritrovai per una selva oscura” (“I found myself in a dark wood “) exposing some of the main musical material for the rest of the piece, quickly leading to the entrance of hell, ”Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’intrate” (“Abandon all hope, you who enter here “). The second section, “In la palude va c’ha nome Stige” (“A marsh it makes, which has the name of Styx “), is a quirky waltz featuring solo’s in the cornet, trombone, E flat Bass and flugelhorn. The mood gets more uneasy in the third section “Omai, figliuolo, s’appressa la città c’ha nome Dite “ (“My son, the city that bears the name of Dis is drawing near”). The ostinato motives portray the constant recurring terrors inside the city of hell. The ninth circle of hell is a very cold place portrayed in the fourth section “mettine giù, e non ten vegna schifo, dove Cocito la freddura serra.” (“do set us down below, where cold shuts in, Cocytus and do not disdain that task.“) A few damned souls get a voice in solos for trombone and cornet, all leading to the final cadenza where the three-headed Lucifer is portrayed by the trombone section. After climbing Lucifer we find ourselves on our way out of hell in the fifth section “E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle” (“and thence we came forth to see again the stars”), where memories of the journey still linger but eventually get conquered.