Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
November 29
1775 Death of Italian violinist and composer Lorenzo Giovanni Somis, at 87, in Turin.

1862 - Premiere of J. Brahms's Piano Quartet No. 2 in A, Op. 26. Hellmesberger Quartet, with the composer at the piano

1877 - Thomas A. Edison demonstrated his hand-cranked phonograph.

1879 - Premiere of J. Brahms' Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, in Vienna.

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November 29, 1825 marked the first performance of an Italian Opera in the United States.  Rossini's Barber of Seville was performed in NYC.

Both his parents were musicians, his father a horn player, his mother a singer; he learnt the horn and singing and as a boy sang in at least one opera in Bologna, where the family lived.

began his operatic career when, at 18, he wrote a one-act comedy for Venice.

This was one of seven operas written in 16 months, all but one of them comic.
Rossini began his operatic career when he was just 18, when he wrote a one-act comedy for the opera company in Venice.  He then proceded to write seven operas in a period of just 16 months.  Comedies predominated, with 6 of these 7 works being comic.  He had gained international acclaim by 1813.  He was known for "crystalline melodies, arresting harmonic inflections and colorful orchestral writing."

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)
(Play wav file) was written for the opera company in Rome, and it premiered in 1816.   It is full of exhilarating rhythms, and it is distinctive for its use of ensemble work.  Initially it was a failure, but it quickly became a favorite of the people.  In fact Beethoven and Verdi were both lovers of the piece.  It is now considered among the greats of Italian comic operas.

Rossini produced music almost continuously for the next 20 years, then fell silent for 18 years.  At age 37 he left Paris, moved to Italy and wrote nothing, and suffered from a prolonged illness.  

In 1855 Rossini returned to Paris.  His health returned, and he started to compose again.  He died in 1868, and opera lovers worldwide mourned.

Now, back to the opera.  The Barber of Seville was the first exposure I had to opera, and it came from an unusual source, with a very unusual performer.
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