ART "A New Romanticism: Sixteen Artists From Italy," at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is by far the best exhibition to come out of Europe in years and the best art to come out of Italy since World War II. The 46 works in the show range from primal images by the "transavantguardia" to Mannerist and Neo-Classicist works by a group called the "anacronisti." The exhibit runs through Jan. 5. CLASSICAL MUSIC

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will give a benefit performance for the Kennedy Center tonight in the Concert Hall, with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and mezzo-soprano Zehava Gal as soloists. The program will include the East Coast premiere of Benjamin Lees' Fourth Symphony, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust with a text drawn from the poems of Nelly Sachs.

The production of "Daniel and the Lions" by the Ensemble for Early Music (based on the "Play of Daniel" which was earlier popularized by the New York Pro Musica) is a unique music-theatrical event, Saturday night in the Tawes Theater at the University of Maryland.

New music: Tomorrow night's program at Strathmore Hall in Rockville will be a multimedia event featuring the work of Lawrence Moss, one of the Washington area's most active and interesting composers. Ulf Grahn, who can be described in the same words, will be featured at the same time in a program at George Washington University's Marvin Theater. On Wednesday evening, at the Library of Congress, there will be a concert of music by Washington composer Herman Berlinski, marking his 75th birthday and including first performances of two works.

Kiri Te Kanawa will be the featured soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Gunther Herbig conducting, Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter will be the guest soloist (playing concertos by Glazunov and Mendelssohn) with the National Symphony, beginning Thursday night.

Other notable events of the week include: The Juilliard Quartet, Friday night at the Library of Congress; the Willem Breuker Kollektief (a Dutch improvisatory group) Friday night at the Baird Auditorium; the Westminster Cathedral Choir, Friday night at the Kennedy Center; the Carabinieri Band of Italy, Saturday night at Constitution Hall; the Munich Philharmonic, Saturday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall; The Theater Chamber Players, Saturday and Sunday in the Terrace Theater; the Manhattan String Quartet, Saturday night at the Dumbarton Avenue United Methodist Church; the Folger Consort, presenting Renaissance Italian music through the weekend at the Folger Library; and a gala concert of the Northern Virginia Symphony, Saturday night at the Reston Community Center. DANCE

Daniel West Dancers, Washington's most promising new contemporary troupe, presents its latest program at the Dance Place this afternoon. A free showing of dance films at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library Tuesday evening features Jose Limon's "Moor's Pavane" (a 1950 film with Limon in the title role), Merce Cunningham's "Coast Zone" (1983) and Ivan Nagy and Cynthia Gregory in "In a Rehearsal Room." Susheela Mehta performs dances in the Bharata Natyam tradition, accompanied by a troupe of Indian instrumentalists, at Baird Auditorium Thursday evening. The New Dance Ensemble, a contemporary troupe based in Minneapolis, arrives at the Dance Place this week courtesy of the new National Performance Network, capping its residency with four performances starting Thursday night, in a program featuring works by Charles Moulton and Ralph Lemon, among others. The Spanish Dance Society is offering a free program at the Marvin Theater Friday night, including regional and flamenco dances, as well as a performance by guest artist Jose de Udaeta from Spain. Blondell Cummings, one of the most original of postmodern dancer-choreographers, presents her four-part solo, "Food for Thought," exploring the social rituals surrounding eating (the first part is called "Chicken Soup," the third, "Tossed Salad"), at a concert Friday night at George Mason University's Harris Theatre. FILM

The "Before 'Rashomon' " Japanese film series kicks off this week at the Library of Congress' Mary Pickford Theater with Kajiro Yamamoto's "Horse," on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30. Friday, Sotoji Kumura's "Older Brother, Younger Sister."

Friday at 9 at the American Film Institute, Greta Garbo in "Camille."

The Soviet Cinema series continues at the Biograph Tuesday through Thursday with Grigori Kosintsev's "Don Quixote," in a double bill with Sergei Parajanov's "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors."

The Surrealist Cinema program at the Corcoran continues Saturday at 11 a.m. with films by Marcel Duchamp, Luis Bun uel and Man Ray.

Among current releases, Fred Schepisi's "Plenty"; Martin Scorsese's "After Hours." POP MUSIC

Cline isn't the only classic Patsy in country-music. Patsy Montana, who popularized the cowgirl image with "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," the first million-seller by a woman country singer, joins Cathy Fink and Rhythm Ranch at Baird Auditorium tonight.

Shades of Return to Forever: pianist Chick Corea performs in many musical guises. On Tuesday, he brings his new electric trio to the Bayou.

Meet the savant of the avant-garde, composer La Monte Young, who brings a world premiere to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on Wednesday.

Elegant cabaret singer Barbara Cook opens a two-week engagement at Ford's Theatre on Wednesday.

Two of the best American songwriters of the past 15 years -- Randy Newman and Guy Clark -- come to town this week: Newman at the Bayou on Wednesday, Clark at the Birchmere on Saturday.