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Rossini - Gaia Servadio

London: Constable, 2003, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good+ — in Very Good+ Dust Wrapper.

Illustrated by way of: Black & White Photographs; Facsimiles;

From the cover: “It is difficult to imagine today how popular Rossini was by the time he decided to stop composing — he was just 32 and had written 39 operas. Today only a football star or a pop singer can command such enthusiastic reverence. But there is a mystery to his life — why on a wave of such tremendous popularity did Rossini step aside?

Wagner, who had exchanged many ideas with Rossini, thought that he could be understood only in the context of his historical era. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic occupation the romantic movement swept across Europe. And opera was not only more popular than we can imagine, it was also powerfully political. Rossini was the link between the neoclassical movement and romanticism, between monarchies and revolutions, autocracy and liberalism.

After his triumphant years in Italy, where he was the most highly sought after composer of the age, he encountered the great voice of romanticism in the Paris salons, in meetings with Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac and Eugene Delacroix, among others. But at heart he was a depressive, and when Beethoven told him that he should stick to comedies, Rossini never forgot or forgave him. Having complained in silence all his life, in the end he resolved to complain to God, to whom he dedicated his final ‘Petite Messe’. That he should have composed again at the end of his life is not a contradiction — he wanted this Mass to remain private, to be performed for friends and God alone. He had come to hate the public — and himself.

Using new material and previously unpublished letters, Gaia Servadio sheds much light on the mystery of Rossini’s life. She relates the story of his difficult childhood and impoverished family life, his women, the divas, his nervous illnesses, and sets all this against the sweep of European history. It is not only an account of one of the most intelligent minds of his time and certainly one of the greatest composers of all time, but also of the age in which he lived.”

Size: 9½" x 6¼". Black boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. [XII] 244 pages.