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Rossini: His Life and Works (Master Musicians Series) [Hardcover]

Richard Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Price: 18.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 Oct 2007 Master Musicians Series
Gioachino Rossini was one of the most influential, as well as one of the most industrious and emotionally complex of the great nineteenth-century composers. Between 1810 and 1829, he wrote 39 operas, a body of work, comic and serious, which transformed Italian opera and radically altered the course of opera in France. His retirement from operatic composition in 1829, at the age of 37, was widely assumed to be the act of a talented but lazy man. In reality, political events and a series of debilitating illnesses were the determining factors. After drafting the Stabat Mater in 1832, Rossini wrote no music of consequence for the best part of twenty-five years, before the clouds lifted and he began composing again in Paris in the late 1850s. During this glorious Indian summer of his career, he wrote 150 songs and solo piano pieces his 'Sins of Old Age' and his final masterpiece, the Petite Messe solennelle. The image of Rossini as a gifted but feckless amateur-the witty, high-spirited bon vivant who dashed off The Barber of Seville in a mere thirteen days-persisted down the years, until the centenary of his death in 1968 inaugurated a process of re-evaluation by scholars, performers, and writers. The original 1985 edition of Richard Osborne's pioneering and widely acclaimed Rossini redefined the life and provided detailed analyses of the complete Rossini oeuvre. Twenty years on, all Rossini's operas have been staged and recorded, a Critical Edition of his works is well advanced, and a scholarly edition of his correspondence, including 250 previously unknown letters from Rossini to his parents, is in progress. Drawing on these past two decades of scholarship and performance, this new edition of Rossini provides the most detailed portrait we have yet had of one of the worlds best-loved and most enigmatic composers.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 2 edition (25 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195181298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195181296
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Osborne's Rossini remains indispensable both as a conspectus of, and prolegomenon to, the life and work of this most colourful of operative composers. (Conor Farrington. TLS.)

About the Author

Richard Osborne is one of Britain's best known writers and broadcasters, and a leading authority on Rossini. Widely praised for its scholarship and readability, the original edition of his Master Musicians Rossini was seen as an infuential act of revaluation at a time of renewed interest in the composer's music and personality. Other books by Richard Osborne include Herbert von Karajan: A Life in Music (1998) and Till I End My Song. English Music and Musicians 1440-1940: A Perspective from Eton (2002). critic and broadcaster, author of Conversations with Karajan (OUP 1991), Herbert von Karajan: A Life in Music (Chatto & Windus 1998), and Till I End My Song. English Music and Musicians 1440-1940: A Perspective from Eton (Cygnet Press 2002).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Osborne has done it again 9 Mar 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Though I regret the absence of an English book dealing exclusively with the operas and wish that such a work were written by Osborne, I recommend this 400-page updated edition of his 1985 Master Musicians study without hesitation to all Rossini fans. The format (true to the title) balances, almost ideally, life (17 chapters) and works (23): if only the author's analysis of the latter - especially my beloved operatic rarities - were longer... The appendixes feature a calendar, list of works, personalia, and select bibliography. Wrapped in a glossy dust-jacket showing Rossini at his handsomest, the book contains b/w photos and musical examples. Even if you're simply wondering about Stendhal's fascination with the Italian composer's life and works, Osborne won't let you down you in this respect.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Osborne has done it again 9 Dec 2009
By Filippo Secondo (aka AB) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Though I regret the absence of an English book dealing exclusively with the operas and wish that such a work were written by Osborne, I recommend this 400-page updated edition of his 1985 Master Musicians study without hesitation to all Rossini fans. The format (true to the title) balances, almost ideally, life (17 chapters) and works (23): if only the author's analysis of the latter - especially my beloved operatic rarities - were longer... The appendixes feature a calendar, list of works, personalia, and select bibliography. Wrapped in a glossy dust-jacket showing Rossini at his handsomest, the book contains b/w photos and musical examples. Even if you're simply wondering about Stendhal's fascination with the Italian composer's life and works, Osborne won't let you down you in this respect.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lilt of Life 30 May 2009
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is a characteristic lilt to the music of Rossini and appropriately there is a lilt to the writing of Richard Osborne in his revised edition of the life of Rossini. The biographer presents enough information of interest for the devoted amateur, as I am, to grasp some appreciation of the person and the events behind the deeply loved works of this great master. This is not a data-filled three volume Verdi biography of Budden or a Spitta or Schweitzer on Bach but more akin to the anecdotal Vie de Rossini of Stendhal (but more accurate). It's the story of an extraorinarily talented master composer that fell into one bed of roses after another for most of his life. The tiny Adriatic town of Pesero, a backwater for most of the ages, has come to be a festival site where the Rossini Institute presents his operas from critical editions and promotes ongoing scholarship on Rossini and his era. It was here that the Rossinis were blest with the birth of their only child five months after marriage. This occurred on 29 February 1792. Father Giuseppe was an itinerant horn and trumpet player and mother, Anna, was a soprano accomplished enough to have her name listed on handbills of concert engagements. A very musical family but without status or money. Rossini's love and prowess in music developed early. His father was his first teacher and he accompanied his mother on tour of an itinerant Buffo comedy company and sang with her as well. At age twelve he sarted composing sonatas for strings and other works. He soon was writing overtures and incidental music for the shows he was in. At 18 he wrote his first staged work, a farsa comica, called La Cambiale Matrimonio. It was a great success and is still given regularly in Italy and elsewhere. Success followed success and he wrote fast and furiously. In those days reusing previously composed material in a new setting was considered acceptable. Thus we have the overture to the Barber of Seville being used for three quite different operas. Even incorporating sections from other composers' compositions, called "pastiches", was allowed. But Rossini's final products were all his own and many are masterpieces. He retired from Italian opera at age 32 having written over thirty operas and took up residence in Paris. He will write or rewrite five more operas in French along with numerous other works called "Sins of Old Age"; his last opera Guilliame Tell is a French Grand Opera that was given some 500 times during his lifetime. He lived the "good life" with his second wife Olympe and presided over a grand salon in a fashionable Paris studio. In later life he had serious health problems and died at 76. The book then devotes chapters to anaysis of most of his operas as well as religious and chamber works. Some of his operas were failures at the time first given but have become appreciated in modern productions e.g. Ermione, Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghliterra etc. He said it would take time for some of his children to find favor. Osborne also includes a very useful Calender from age 1 to 76 with events in Rossini's life and Contemporary Events, An excellent list of all the composers works and prima dates makes this a useful reference book. It is a great addition to the music lovers bookshelf.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and fascinating 6 Jun 2013
By Columba - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an unusual book, in that the first half is almost straight biography, with a few comments on the operas themselves as well as on audience reception of them, and the second half is an opera-by-opera musical analysis, with parts of scores inserted as illustrations of the points that Osborne is making. Both sections, however, overlap to a certain extent, in that Osborne discusses some of the dynamics of the music in the biography section, and comments on Rossini's developing musical insights and reactions to his audiences in the analysis section. Both sections are very well written, clear without being oversimplified, and entertaining without losing professionalism. What's more, the book can be read and re-read in a number of ways: from beginning straight through to the end; or the analysis section first and the biography afterward (which I did, since I already knew much of Rossini's biography and wanted to get at the analysis right away); or both at once -- which I'm now doing on a re-read, flipping back and forth between sections to fill out from the analysis section whatever opera is being described in the biography section. This is a remarkable book at a surprisingly low cost for such a valuable research resource. It's also a very good read, not just about Rossini and his music, but also about the culture of his time. I highly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Overview 24 July 2014
By Cort Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Now this is a great biography. First Osbourne traces Rossini's career and then returns and gives overviews of his operas and his surprisingly large number of post-opera works...I decided to do an overview of Italian opera from Rossini to Puccini. I thought I would do three for four Rossini operas and I think I'm up to around 10 right now. Rossini was indeed a genius and it's been great reading Osbourne as I'm going through them
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