Gioacchino ROSSINI
29 February 1792 - 13 November 1868 (age 76)

Gioachino Rossini was an Italian 19th century composer. Together with Bellini and Donizetti he was one of the main proponents of 'Bel Canto' opera.

Rossini Family


Travels and career




portrait of Rossini


Father: Giuseppe, horn player and slaughterhouse inspector
Mother: Anna Guidarini, a singer and baker's daughter
Siblings: none
1st wife: Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran
2nd wife: His first wife died in 1845, and on August 16, 1846 he married Olympe Pélissier,
Children: none


Best known works:
39 Operas including -

  • William Tell
  • The Thieving Magpie
  • The Barber of Seville
  • The Italian Girl in Algiers
  • La Cenerentola
  • The Lady of the Lake

Sacred Music:
- Stabat Mater
- Petite messe solennelle
Piano music and songs

William Tell overture
Riccardo Muti conducts

Travels and career 

  • Childhood - His father (a trumpeter) and his mother (a singer) encouraged his musical talents. He learnt to play the piano, the harpsichord, the violin, the cello the horn and he was a singer in the church choir.
  • Age 13 - composed his first opera Demetrio e Polibio although it wasn't staged until six years later.
  • Age 14-18 studied at the Conservatorio di Bologna. He was drawn to the works of Haydn and Mozart for which he was nicknamed 'Il tedeschino' (the little German).
  • Age 18 - First public staging of one of his operas: 'La Cambiale di Matrimonio' in Venice.
  • Age 18-23 - Produced various operas in Bologna, Venice, Milan and Rome the most successful of which was 'Tancredi'.
  • Age 23-30 - He was made artistic director and official composer of the royal opera houses of Naples, including the prestigious Teatro San Carlo. He composed 20 operas during this period including 'The Barber of Seville' and 'Cenerentola'.
  • Age 30 - Married Isabella Colbran who was the leading soprano at Naples. She was also the mistress of his boss! Not surprisingly he soon returned to Bologna.
  • Age 31 - Invited to London by the manager of the King's Theatre where he completed a 5 month residency. He was introduced to King George IV.
  • Age 32 - He settled in Paris where he was apponted musical director of the Théâtre-Italia, Chief Composer to the King and Inspector General of Singing in France.
  • Age 37 - Staged his final opera - 'Guillaume Tell' ( 'William Tell') and retired from composing opera.
    For the next 39 years he composed no operas and only pieces for his own satisfaction, for example his 'Stabat Mater' and a Mass.
  • Age 45 - Left Paris to live in Bologna.
  • Age 53 - His wife Isabella died. The next year he married Olympe Pélissier, with whom he had been living for the previous 15 years.
  • Age 63 - returned to Paris where he lived until the end of his life.
  • Age 76 - Died. He was buried in Paris but in 1887 his remains were moved to the Basilica di Santa Croce, in Florence, 


- "Give me a laundry list and I'll set it to music."

- "Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind."

- "Answer critics with silence and indifference. It works better, I assure you, than anger and argument."

- "Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool."

- "Wagner is a composer who has beautiful moments but awful quarter hours"

- "One can't judge Wagner's opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don't intend to hear it a second time"

Images of Rossini
A fascinating collection of images - art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps.

Cenerentola (Cindarella)- Finale Act 1
Orchestra Teatro alla Scala,Claudio Abbado conductor.

L'italiana in Algeri

The Thieving Magpie Overture


While his operas are performed regularly all over the world, there are two festivals specifically dedicated to Rossini

Pesaro Festival
This is an annual festival held in the seaside town on the Adriatic where he was born.
This year, 2013, is the 34th. Dates: 10 - 23 August

Knoxville Rossini Festival and Italian Street Fair, Tennessee
This annual festival combines world class opera performances, art and craft exhibitions, wine tasting, and a wide variety of other events with a vibrant Italian Street Fair. Held in April - the 2013 festival will be the weekend of 27th April

Links - Where to go for more information



Rossini on Food

Biography - Classical Net

Rossini by Richard Osborne (Google Books)

Pesaro Rossini Annual Festival

Knoxville's Annual Rossini Festival

Italian Composers - more profiles here at 52composers

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