1792 - 1868
Italian composer Gioachino Rossini was born on February 29th 1792 in Pesaro. He studied at the Bologna Conservatory, learning counterpoint with Stanislao Mattei whilst also studying the cello. The incredibly strict views of Mattei on the subject of counterpoint forced Rossini to a much freer school of composition. As a result, he spent hours studying the scores of Mozart and Haydn, to the extent that he was nicknamed ‘the Little German’ whilst at Bologna. Rossini was primarily famous for his operas, of which there are an impressive 39, among some sacred music, chamber music, songs and instrumental and piano pieces. His best known operas include Italian comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and La Cenerentola and the French-language grand operas Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell. Many of his operas became so popular because of the range of inspired, song-like melodies that can be found across his scores. As a result of this, he was nicknamed ‘The Italian Mozart’. He retired in 1829 and up to this point, he had been the most popular opera composer ever, with his overall popularity passing all other composers before him.