Gioachino Antonio Rossini : biography
Rossini was born on the 29th of February (he said it was on the 2nd of March) in 1792 in Pesaro (in Mark), that’s why he was called “A Pesaro swan”. Rossini’s father was a French horn player and his mother was a singer. The boy was brought up in musical atmosphere and when his talent was revealed he was sent to develop his voice to Angelo Tesei to Bologna. In 1807 Rossini became a student of an abbot Mattei in Liceo Filarmonico in Bologna and studied composition but he stopped studying when he finished the course of simple counterpoint because Mattei was sure this knowledge was enough to write operas. The first stage debut of Rossini was a one-act opera “La cambiale di matrimonio” (The marriage promissory note), it was performed in 1810 in the theatre San Mose in Venice. The opera attracted audience’ attention, his second opera was popular too – “L’equivoco Stravagante” (The strange case), performed in Bologna in 1811. These two operas were so popular that Rossini had a lot of work and by 1812 he had written five operas. The next year when his “Tancredi” was performed on the stage of the theatre Fenice in Venice Italians decided that Rossini was the greatest of all opera composers of Italy, this opinion was strengthened by his opera “Italian woman in Algeria”.
The performance of his “The barber of Seville” on the stage of the theatre Argentina in Rome brought Rossini the biggest triumph. This opera was not only the most genius of his compositions but also the crown of all Italian comic operas. “The barber of Seville” was received with big distrust in Rome as everyone considered it to be an impudence to dare to write an opera on this theme after Paisiello. The first performance was received even coldly, but the second which wasn’t conducted by disappointed Rossini was a great success: audience even organized a torchlight procession.
This year “Othello” followed in Naples, in this opera Rossini at the first time got rid of recitative secco, then he wrote “Cinderella” which was performed in Rome, then “La gazza ladra” was performed in 1817 in Milan. In 1815-1823 Rossini concluded a contract with a theatre entrepreneur Dominico Barbaia which had a year salary 12 thousand liras. He undertook to organize performances of two operas every year, Barbaia had not only Naples theatres but also La Scala in Milan and Italian Opera in Vienna. The slack accepting of “Semiramide” in Venice (the composition was wider and more grandiose than previous) made Rossini to visit London in 1823 where he gave concerts and private lessons. For five months he managed to collct ten thousand pounds. In October of that year he went to Paris where he settled for a long time and took a theatrical enterprise of Theatre Italian.
Rossini didn’t have any organizing abilities and in two years the theatre’s condition was so bad that viscount Laroshfuco set him aside from enterprise and made him the main quartermaster of royal music and the main inspector of singing – it gave Rossini 20 thousand francs. Although July revolution deprived Rossini of these positions, after the long process he managed to have pension of 6 thousand francs. Rossini became a real Frenchman in Paris and in 1829 he wrote “Tell”, his main composition in the field of big opera, it was the last scene composition of Rossini.
Since 1829 and till his death (at the age of 76) Rossini took a pen only to write his famous “Stabat Mater” (1832, the widened version in 1841) and several church compositions and cantatas. In 1836 Rossini moved from Paris and returned to Italy where he settled firstly in Milan and then in his villa near Bologna, he was ill and bored. The great success of “Stabat” livened him up, but disorders of 1848 again influenced badly on him, he had to escape from rebels in Florence and in 1853 he finally decided to return to Paris where he recovered and lived for fifteen years in honour and respect.
Rossini created (in 20 days) one of his most famous composition – the opera “The barber from Seville” on the Beaumarchais’ play.
In 1821 Rossini married a singer Isabella Colbran. In 1823 the director of Her Majesty’s Theatre invited him to visit Great Britain where he had salary of seven thousand pounds. In 1824 Rossini got the position of the director of Italian Theatre in Paris.
In 1845 the first wife of the composer died. In 1847 Rossini married Olympia Pellisie. In 1855 he moved to Paris again and made his house one of the most fashionable musical salons.
Rossini died on the 13th of November in 1868 in the town Passy near Paris. In 1867 the composer’s ashes were transported to Florence. The conservatory in his native town is named after Rossini, it was built according to his last will.
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