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 - Lorenzo Giovanni Somis, Italian violinist and composer, died 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.

1924 - Death of Italian opera composer Giacomo Puccini in Brussels.

1964 - She's Not There, by the Zombies, was released.

1989 - Premiere of Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 2

1997 - Premiere of Anthony Davis's opera Amistad.

1998 - The Wilkinsons made their first official appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.
Can You Guess?
We discuss Our Gang's use of The Barber of Seville.  But there was a cartoon which featured the music called Rabbit of Seville that features a famous shaving scene. Can You Guess the two characters in this famous feature, Doc?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
November 29, 1825 marked the first performance of an Italian Opera in the United States.  Rossini's Barber of Seville was performed in New York City.

Both of Gioacchino Rossini's parents were musicians, his father a horn player, his mother a singer.  As a boy. he learned the horn and singing and sang in at least one opera in Bologna, where the family lived.
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 from 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.  I was actually exposed to two different versions, and they came from unusual sources, with very unusual performers.
Gioacchino Rossini
The first I remember featured the Our Gang Follies of 1938, in which Alfalfa decides to stop crooning and take up opera.  He meets an agent who tells him to come back when he is an adult.  Returning to the gang's show, he falls asleep and dreams of his meeting the agent again years later, contract in hand.  On stage he attempts to sing a selection from The Barber of Seville.  The crowd hates his singing, but he has a contract that must be fulfilled, and he is turned out onto the snowy streets where he must sing.   There he meets his childhood friends who have become wealthy through popular music.  You can guess what Alfalfa does when he wakes up.
Click the Cover to See Info about the DVD at Amazon
Brahms Piano Quartets
Gioacchino Rossini 1792-1868
The second occurrence I remember from my childhood of music from Barber of Seville is discussed in the Can You Guess section at the right.
Looney Toons
Barber of Seville
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A Very Good Recording of Rossini's Barber of Seville.
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Did You Guess?
The famous shaving scene showed Elmer Fudd being shaved by Bugs Bunny.  Click Here to hear the scene from Rabbit of Seville.from
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