It is no wonder that Gioacchino Rossini composed so many operas – his musical strength in his youth was his voice. He composed 38 operas by the time he was 37 years old, but composed no more after the creation of one of his most famous, William Tell. Many have speculated why he stopped opera composition – it could be that he had such financial success at a young age that he was content to enjoy the fame, culture, gourmet foods and social life without working.
Many of Rossini’s operas are “opera buffa,” or comic operas. His beautiful, singable ear-worm melodies were enormously appealing to opera audiences and infiltrated his instrumental music as well. Many of Rossini’s well-known instrumental works are overtures from his operas. The lightheartedness of his overtures were too much fun for the creators of Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons to resist!
Rossini began his career in his native Italy, but moved to Paris where he remained for the later part of his life.
Listening – Flute Related
Woodwind Quartet No. 6 in F Major
This video includes the Andante and Theme and Variations movements of the quartet in F Major. Note that the woodwind quartet instrumentation consists of flute, clarinet, bassoon and French horn. Somehow we let a brass instrument into the woodwind quartet, but the tonal combination does blend remarkably well!
William Tell Overture (Flute and English Horn Duet and Finale)
One of Rossini’s most famous operas is William Tell. This duet, however, is well known and loved among flute players! The lush melody in the English horn is ornately decorated by a delicate flute obbligato, leading directly to the famed “Long Ranger theme” that closes the overture. Enjoy flutist Emmanuel Pahud performing the flute solo.
Video: William Tell Overture
Variations on a Theme by Rossini
This piece was composed by pianist Frederich Chopin using one of Rossini’s melodies. This video features a performance on a Louis Lot flute that was built in the mid-1800s, during the latter part of Rossini’s life. The piano is one that belonged to Chopin.
Overture to La Gazza Ladra, Mannheimer Philharmoniker
The Mannheimer Philharmoniker is a youth orchestra that provides high-quality performance experience to jump-start the careers of budding musicians. Their performance of the Overture to La Gazza Ladra is as energy-filled as Rossini would have liked it to be!
Video: La Gazza Ladra