Magpies - Rossini Overtures

I have just read on Twitter that India Knight thinks there are a lot more Magpies around than usual and she spends her life saluting them.  I am with her on this one and have always saluted Magpies, saluting each one I see three times which is exhausting at this time of year.  Something to do with giving you luck. However my children think I am ridiculous and spend their life imitating me but they add a twitch for their own amusement.  So an awful lot of saluting and twitching goes on in our car!

Have a look at this video, it was an encore at the Carnegie Hall in New York.  Zubin Mehta conducting the Vienna Philharmonic along with the soprano Diana Damrau.  It made me smile.  youtube 

This week's works are some of Rossini's overtures to his operas, a form which he transformed into a popular and flourishing work of art on it's own.



Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868) was, until his retirement in 1829, the most popular opera composer in history.  He wrote 39 operas of which some of his most famous are il barbiere di Siviglia, La cenerentola and Guillaume Tell.

Rossini was born to musical parents who had to work for their living, his mother, a beautiful opera singer was the first woman to perform on stage in the Papal States.  His father was a horn player in an orchestra as well as an inspector of slaughterhouses, at the age of 6 Rossini played the triangle in his father's orchestra.

Rossini composed in the opera buffa style where operas are rich in light-hearted and comic antics with an abundance of singable tunes.  His song-like melodies are evident throughout his scores which led to the nickname "The Italian Mozart".  He was a great inspiration to those to come, in particular Verdi, Puccini and Wagner.



Guillaume Tell was the last opera that Rossini composed and apart from a few songs, piano pieces and two major choral works, he retired a wealthy man at the age of 37 and spend the last 36 years of his life in relative seclusion in pursuit of hobbies of which cooking was his main one.  He also became immensely fat.

This recording contains some of Rossini's best-loved overtures including il barbiere di Siviglia, La cenerentola,  La gazza ladra (The thieving magpie) and the best known overture of all Guillaume Tell which has the famous brass fanfare and is known to generations of listeners' as the Lone Ranger's Theme.

Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado

On the recording I recommend Claudio Abbado conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.  

Claudio Abbado died in January this year aged 80.  Not only was he one of the world's greatest conductors but in the last decade of his life, whilst suffering from a severe illness, he got together a super-band of musicians who gathered for his sake - The Lucerne Festival Orchestra.  From them he encouraged a level of playing which listeners had never experienced in other orchestral concerts.

Watch Claudio Abbado conduct La gazza ladra (The thieving magpie) on youtube   or listen to the finale of Guillaume Tell also on youtube   

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Posted on April 2, 2014 .