Composer Profile: Gioachino Rossini, An Italian Master

By David Salazar

Gioachino Rossini, born on Feb. 29, 1729, is one of the great masters of Italian Opera.

He was born in Pesaro and began to compose at the age of 12. He premiered his first opera “La Cambiale Di Matrimonio” in Venice in 1812 when he was just 18. Five years later, he was being engaged to write operas all over the Italian stage, culminating in a total of 34 operas in 13 years. His proficiency was the result of Rossini often borrowing music from previous operas for his new ones.

From 1824 until 1829, Rossini composed five more operas for the Paris Opera; after the premiere of “Guillaume Tell” in 1829, he never composed another opera. He would die in 1868.

His particular style of composition was dubbed the “Code Rossini” by writer Julian Budden due to its predictable structure. He often employed several composition techniques in his writing, especially the “Rossini crescendo.” His overtures are often in sonata form as well.

Signature Works

Rossini is best known for two major comedies – “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and “La Cenerentola.” Both works are major fixtures in the standard repertory around the planet. “L’Italiana in Algeri” and “Le Comte Ory” are other comedies that approach the popularity of the other Bel Canto comedies.

But he also created a number of Opera Seria that has become increasingly prominent at major opera houses. Among these works that are working their way into the standard repertory are “Tancredi,” “Otello,” “Guillaume Tell,” and “Semiramide;” “Guillaume Tell” was one of his last works and is increasingly seen as his finest work.

Read More on Rossini

Five Operas That Should Be in The Standard Rep

Conductor José Miguel-Pérez On Why Rossini Is One of The Greatest Of All Time

Watch and Listen
Here is a performance of “Guillaume Tell.”

And here is “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” with Juan Diego Flórez and Mari Bayó.


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