This week, we’re looking at two more Italian composers – Sacchini and Rossini.
Antonio Sacchini was a Classical period composer. This overture, from Dardanus is very classical, with its very in-line, orderly harmonics. Sacchini was considered a great melody writer, during his time, and was much admired by Queen Marie Antoinette, who told him an opera he was currently working on would be performed for opening night at the theatre at the Palace of Versailles; however, because of social pressures to be less focused on “foreigners,” she changed her mind, and upon telling Sacchini, he became very ill and died shortly thereafter.
This shows what great impact such performances had on the careers of composers during this time. They depended upon the admiration and monies of the people who admired them. Once out of favor, the effect could be devestating.
Gioachino Rossini was a composer during the Romantic period. Most people have heard his William Tell Overture even if they don’t know what it is.
Rossini was known for his crescendos. In fact, he was nicknamed “Signor Crescendo”. He liked exciting build-ups and sweeping melodies, and many compared him to Mozart – though Italian. He was also known for his love of drink and food, and employed a chef after he retired from composing. Today, dishes that were created by or for him are called “alla Rossini”. He came out of retirement to do more composing, after battling mental and physical illness, so his works are considered by many to be split into two distinct types.
This piece is from his Petite Messe Solennelle, and demonstrates a popular practice of the Romantic period: imitation of the Baroque period. Before this point in time, few composers studied the music of the past; they were more interested in current styles. It is interesting that this happened simultaneously with composers wishing to become more distinct from their contemporaries.