Rossini Prepares for the Great Worlds Fair in Paris in 1867

As he is composing his Hymn to Napoleon III, the anthem of the event, he aids an Italian exhibiting there.

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Gioachino Rossini, the great Italian composer who wrote operas, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces, is perhaps best-known for works like “The Barber of Seville.”  He is often referred to as the Italian Mozart, a reference to his skill and the young age at which it was accomplished.

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Rossini Prepares for the Great Worlds Fair in Paris in 1867

As he is composing his Hymn to Napoleon III, the anthem of the event, he aids an Italian exhibiting there.

Gioachino Rossini, the great Italian composer who wrote operas, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces, is perhaps best-known for works like “The Barber of Seville.”  He is often referred to as the Italian Mozart, a reference to his skill and the young age at which it was accomplished.

In 1855, Rossini moved to Paris, where he settled, and established himself as a cultural figure in that city, entertaining and occasionally composing.  He hosted many literary and artistic figures and was a well known lover of food and cooking.  He was a celebrity, who had achieved fame and financial comfort.

The International Exposition of 1867 in France was the second world’s fair to be held in Paris and took place from April 1 to November 3 1867. Many nations were represented at the fair. Following a decree of Emperor Napoleon III, the fair took place in the midst of the renovation of Paris, marking the culmination of the Second French Empire.

For such a grand occasion, Rossini was chosen to write the “Hymn to Napoleon III,” which he did and it was the musical centerpiece, the anthem of the event.  Rossini also was a liaison for the fair on behalf of Italians at home, particularly those close to where he called home.  His primary fiscal agent and correspondent was Angelo Mignani, who handled his finances and was a link back to Italy.  Professor Rizzoli was the chief surgeon in Bologna, a university town in northern Italy, also the home of Mignani. Rizzoli was the inventor of surgical techniques he wished to exhibit at the fair.

Autograph letter signed, Paris, January 29, 1867, to Mignani, accepting a large sum of money, likely for living expenses, and assuring Rizzoli that his funds had cleared.  “Dear Angelo. I received your letter dated the 24th in which is included the draft of 1047.35 francs.  Also tell Mr. Rizzoli that the promissory note was accepted immediately and that it has the signatures (probably not well known by him) of Spaniards who enjoy a great reputation in Paris.  Dear Angelo, continue in your good work.  G. Rossini.”  1000 francs in today’s money would be several thousand US dollars, and likely represented his living expenses as he was composing his Hymn and preparing for the Worlds Fair.

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