Born in Pesaro, Italy, 1792
Died in Paris, France, November 13, 1868
William Tell, The Barber of Seville, Overture to La gazza ladra
Rossini, a robust Italian man with an outgoing personality, was born in a small town, Pesaro, on the east coast of Italy on February 29, 1792 (leap day). His father was a musician and his mother was an opera singer. As a boy, he was a singer and played the cello and horn. At 15, he entered a music school in Bologna, Italy where he learned to compose music. Rossini once said to give him a laundry list and he would set it to music! His first successful composition was completed at age 18 in Venice, Italy, and his masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, was first performed in Rome, Italy when he was only 24 years of age.
He composed thirty operas, the last of which was William Tell, with its famous overture, storm scene, and ballet music. Rossini was a lazy man, fond of women, and a very good cook. He liked to host dinner parties for his friends, among whom was Franz Liszt, another famous composer. He had fun teasing and playing tricks on his friends. (Those characteristics are also found in his music.) Rossini was married two times and both wives were opera singers. When criticized about his life-style, he responded that one should not expect much more of a man born on leap day!