Rossini, Gioacchino: Sonata a Quattro No. 3 in C Major

Rossini as a composer of opera was simply great. He was enormously successful, and rightly aware of his worth: “…of my works, the second act of Guglielmo Tell, the third act of Otello, and all of il Barbiere di Seviglia will certainly endure.” This is a reasonable and modest assessment of enormous contributions to the world of opera and music.

He was less proud of his achievement in writing six sonatas a quattro for two violins, cello, and double bass. In the manuscript, he added the following description by hand:

…six dreadful sonatas composed by me at the country place (near Ravenna) of my Maecenas friend Triossi, when I was at the most infantile age, not even having taken a lesson in accompaniment, the whole composed and copied out in three days and performed by Triossi, double-bass, Morri, his cousin, first violin, the latter’s brother, violoncello, who played like dogs, and the second violin by me myself, who was not in the least doggish, by God.

He wasn’t at the most infantile age. But he was a mere twelve years old, and writing works for the available instruments and players while on some sort of vacation. And they are not dreadful. They are charming, spirited, and imaginative. (They needn’t be compared to Otello.) They are all the more beautiful for being simply what they are, and the product of one of the great dramatists in music history.

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