Composer of operas and a few sacred works; b. Pesaro, Italy, Feb. 29, 1792 (christened Gioacchino Antonio);d. Passy (Paris), Nov. 13, 1868. His parents were theater musicians; at 13 he was a professional singer, horn player, and accompanist and at 15, was studying theory with Padre Mattei in Bologna. His first successful opera, Tancredi (1813), was followed by 29 more, of which the best known are Otello and The Barber of Seville (1816), Semiramide (1823), and William Tell (1829). With this climactic work he ceased opera composition, living thereafter in semiretirement, chiefly in Paris. His major religious works are the Stabat Mater (1832, revised and completed 1847), and the lengthy Petite Messe Solennelle (1863), neither of which is suitable for liturgical use. He reluctantly permitted the Stabat Mater to be published, and forbade public performance of the Mass during his lifetime. In a touching prayer on the final page of the Mass he asked, "Is it sacred music [ musique sacrée ] or wretched music [sacrée musique ] that I have just made?" and admitted, "I was born for opera buffa. " Operatic influences permeate both works, but the Mass contains several impressive passages. His few motets (mostly early) generally favor solo singing.
Bibliography: g. radiciotti, Giaocchino Rossini, 3 v. (Tivoli 1927–29). f. toye, Rossini (new ed. London 1955). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 1373–76. m. de stendhal, Life of Rossini, tr. r. n. coe (New York 1957). p. b. brauner, "The Opera Omnia of Gioacchino Rossini," Journal of the Conductors' Guild 14 (1993), 2–7. j. f. crowley, "The Pivotal Role of Rossini's Otello in the Evolution of Italian Dramatic Opera," The Opera Journal 26/3 (1993), 19–33. m. grondona, La perfetta illusione: 'Ermione' e l'opera seria rossiniana (Lucca 1996). c. henzel, "'Du, Tell, du sollst der Führer sein …': Die Rossini-Bearbeitung von Julius Kapp und Robert Heger (1934)," Die Musikforschung 52 (1999), 190–203. j. johnson, "Rossini in Bologna and Paris during the Early 1830s: New Letters," Revue de Musicologie 79 (1993), 63–81. w. kirsch, "Gioacchino Rossinis Stabat Mater: Versuch einer exegese," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 73 (1989), 71–96. a. l. belli, "Hegel e Rossini. Il cantar che nell' anima si sente, " Die Belge de Musicologie 49 (1995), 211–230. v. pagÁn, "Un italiano en Madrid: Gioacchino Rossini (estudio de iconografía)," Revista de Musicología 18 (1995), 229–245. g. ruffin, "Drammaturgia come auto-confutazione teatrale: aspetti metalinguistici alle origini della comicità nelle opere comiche di Rossini," Recercare 4 (1992), 125–163. p. schmid and d. white, "The Mysterious Case of Ermione, " The Opera Quarterly 12/3 (1996), 7–15.
[r. m. longyear]