Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868)
Italian composer whose father was an inspector of slaughter-houses, but also a professional trumpeter. When the father was imprisoned for having backed the wrong side during the Napoleonic invasion, his mother took the young Rossini to Bologna where she earned a living as an opera singer. Rossini made an early reputation as an opera composer with his strong sense of melody and comedy, as seen in The Barber of Seville. His thirty-sixth opera, William Tell, was his last at the age of 37, for reasons which have never been clear, he stopped composing, writing only his Stabat Mater and a setting of the Mass in later life. He was something of a gourmet and invented the steak dish Tournedos Rossini. He was born on February 29th and died on Friday 13th.
You can view Presto's hand-picked selection of favourite Rossini recordings here.