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Gioacchino Antonio Rossini



Born 29 February, 1792, at Pesaro in the Romagna; died 13 November, 1868, at Passy, near Paris. He was twice married: in 1822 to Isabella Colbrand; in 1847 to Olympe Pélissier, who survived him, but he had no children.

Rossini was not only the chief operatic composer of his time, but also a great innovator. Lesueur, in 1824, the greatest composer of the French school, said that "his ardent genius had opened a new road and marked a new epoch in musical art". In the opera seria for long recitatives he substituted more singing; in the opera buffa he inaugurated a new comedy style. He introduced many new instruments into the Italian orchestras. To him belongs the preghiera for a whole body of voices, as first introduced in "Mosè". He had a good baritone voice, and was an excellent pianist. In 1804 he had lessons in singing and pianoforte playing at Bologna. Two years later he acted as musical director to a traveling company, but soon returned to Bologna to study composition at the Lyceum. His first successes were at Venice and Milan. In 1813 he wrote "Tancredi", the first of his operas which, with "L'Italiana in Algeri", became celebrated throughout Europe. In 1816 and 1817 he composed for the Teatro Valle at Rome his happiest, if not his greatest work, "The Barber of Seville" and "Cenerentola". Meanwhile he had begun his career at the San Carlo in Naples, and wrote for this important opera-house in 1818 "Mosè", in 1819 "La Donna del Lago". In 1823 came "Semiramide", written for Venice, his last work in Italy; it was his thirty-fourth opera. In 1824 he spent the season in London, and at the first concert he himself sang the solo. The same year he undertook in Paris the direction, first of the Italian Opera, and then of the Académie. He wrote for Paris in 1829 "William Tell", his last and finest opera. Then followed the comparatively inactive period of his life, in which he ceased to write for the stage, but still produced in 1832 his well known "Stabat", in 1847 his "Stanzas" to Pius IX, in 1864 a "Messe Solennelle". In 1836 he went to live with his father at Bologna; but from 1855 till his death he was again in France.

Edwards, The Life Of Rossini (London, 1869); Silvestri, Della Vita e delle opere di G. Rossini (Milan, 1874); Azevedo, Rossini, sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris, 1864); Oettinger, Joachim Rossini (Lepizig, 1852).

A. Walter.








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