115. Giovanni Paisiello [365 Composers for 2013]


25th April – Giovanni Paisiello

Paisiello (9th May 1740 – 5th June 1816) is our composer for 25th April, to mark Liberation Day in Italy.
Nationality: Italian
Lifespan: 76 years
Genre: Classical
Education: Conservatorio da S. Onofrio, Naples
Fame Ranking: 5

Paisiello was an Italian composer of opera, picked for today’s post as it is Liberation Day in Italy. Paisiello had a somewhat predictable career at first; he sang well as a child, studied at his local Conservatoire, composed for fellow students while at the conservatory and gained some recognition which gradually increased, until he was asked to compose operas for the theatres in Bologna and in Rome. Step by step he managed to carve himself an unremarkably successful career as a composer, and his private life was equally modestly successful, with a happy marriage to Cecilia Pallini in 1772.

In the late 1770s Paisiello’s life story becomes a little more interesting. He was invited to Russia by Catherine II, and stayed in St. Petersburg for eight years. During this time, he wrote an opera entitled “The Barber of Seville”. Sadly for him, a few decades later Rossini created his masterpiece with the same name, and thus Paisiello’s version has been comparatively forgotten. Paisiello was invited to Paris by Napoleon, and some years later returned to Naples under the patronage of Joseph Bonaparte. When the Bonaparte family started losing its power, so Paisiello’s reputation also suffered. In 1815 his wife died, and his own death followed shortly afterwards in the following year.

Paisiello was a prolific writer of opera, with almost one hundred operas to his name. He also wrote a considerable amount of sacred music, including cantatas, passions and oratorios.

Here is Paisiello’s “Saper Bramante” from his opera “The Barber of Seville”:


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