This was my second time of reading this book, and much the most enjoyable. Maybe I just know a lot more about music and composers now. Originally it seemed rather repetitive, as did the career of the composer.
I was completely wrong in that assessment. This book is extremely revealing about the workings of a popular composer's life. It explores the pressures and requirements imposed by popular success in the theatre. Maybe the present time puts the content of this book into much clearer focus than it did when it was first published in 1992. The cult of celebrity has a bearing on what happened in Rossini's life.
Alan Kendall tells the story of Rossini's life in an interesting, but not sensational, manner. The reader comes to understand the relationships he had with his parents and both his wives. The story of the breakdown of his first marriage to Isabella Colbran is reported in detail and with understanding. The style of writing makes a change from much contemporary angst-ridden narrative style when describing similar events.
There is a comfortable evenness of tone in Kendal's writing that makes reading a pleasant experience and leads the reader on to read more. The book is an intellectual page-turner; the reader is lulled into reading on and on.
Alan Kendall analyses the music just sufficiently for the general reader with some musical knowledge. He also explores the motivation for Rossini's writing as he did: commercial pressure mainly which is why the composer was criticised in some quarters for shallowness. However, it becomes clear that Rossini had few illusions about himself and his music and was, perhaps, not as mercenary as his critics would have people believe.
This is a hugely sympathetically written biography without fawning over the subject. A gentle and satisfying read.
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