Ever aware of the popular market, Bochsa based his delightfully
frothy little Rondo on the marvellously witty trio 'Zitti, zitti,
piano, piano' from Rossini's 'Barber of Seville', based, in its
turn, on the comedy by Beaumarchais. A commedia in two acts, Rossini's
opera received its first performance in Rome in 1816, and despite
being hissed on that occasion, it soon gained enormous popularity.
Bochsa was already living in London and may well have been present
when the opera received its first London performances two years
The Trio comes from Act II. It
is the dead of night, and the Count and Figaro are trying to
carry off Rosina, so as to ensure her escape from the clutches
of her fiancé, old Dr Bartolo -
ostensibly her guardian!
Although Bochsa is largely known
to today's harp world as a composer of harp studies, he was a
prolific composer, a top-ranking virtuoso, and a teacher of note.
One of his many aristocratic pupils was Maria Jane Williams of
Aberpergwm, whose portrait with her Erard single-action harp
graces the cover of this publication. She almost certainly played
'Zitti, Zitti', but more importantly, she was the dedicatee of
a major work by her teacher. Published, like the present work,
in Paris, Bochsa's 'La Tempête' is dedicated
to her. With her sister, Ann, she was also the dedicatee of John
Thomas's 'Minstrel's Adieu to his Native Land', though this was
composed thirty years later (July 1852).
Maria Jane's portrait, part of a private collection and reproduced
by gracious permission of the owner, is by Merthyr Tydfil-born
Welsh artist Penry Williams (1802-1855) It was exhibited at the
Royal Academy in 1822 (no. 565).
'Zitti, Zitti' has been edited by Isabelle Moretti, professor
of harp at the Paris Conservatoire, and is published for the first
time since the 1820s.