Beethoven & Rossini

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From Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music [1]:

Beethoven has often been lauded for letting the fashionable enthusiasms of the day turn from him to its new idol, Rossini, without making one effort at conciliating the trashy popular taste. (p.173)
* * *
Whenever one finds a statement of [Oulibischeff's] about Beethoven's music one usually feels that the safest course is to multiply it by minus one and abide by the result. Nor does this rule fail to work when he contends that the tiny Allegretto scherzando of the Eighth symphony was a deliberate parody of Rossini, that god of the groundlings of 1812. For, on the contrary, it is possible that Rossini, four years later, was himself inspired by the daintiness of this movement, its roguish tripping rhythm, and its general melodic outlines in the famous "Zitti, Zitti of The Barber of Seville. (p.324-25)
* * *
In 1822 Rossini, the popular musical idol of the day, visited the Master whom his own reputation had thrown somewhat into the shade. Beethoven received him pleasantly enough, described himself as "un infelice" (an unhappy one), and advised Rossini that he would be doing violence to his destiny if he tried his hand "at anything but opera buffa."
Overcome by Beethoven's apparently wretched poverty the generous "Swan of Pesaro" tried to raise a subscription for him. But everyone declined with much the same remark: "He is a misanthrope, cranky, and can't keep friends."
After this call Beethoven remarked: "Rossini is a good scene-painter....He would have been a great composer if ..." and he roughly outlined the painful and humiliating discipline which the Italian's music teacher should have applied to an inconsidered portion of his anatomy. However, despite his low opinion of Rossini as an absolute musician, Beethoven occasionally condescended, as we have seen, to imitate his cruder popular effects." (p.379)


  1. Schauffler, Robert Haven, Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music, Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1929

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