Vincenzo Bellini was born in Catania, Sicily, in 1801. Unlike for his later rival Gaetano Donizetti a musical career seemed obvious. Both his father and grandfather were composers as well. Bellini studied at the conservatory of Naples, where the classical simplicity of Paisiello's music served as an example. The virtuoso melodies and loud orchestrations of Rossini, who was incredibly popular at the time, was detested at the academy. Bellini, however, knew to combine both styles magnificently. His first opera's contained surprisingly little coloratura, which gave him a reputation of a philosopher.
Bellini had the talent to compose beautiful, seemingly endless melodies; a talent which brought him acclaim from Verdi and Chopin, among many others. And yet, Bellini was also a pragmatic composer, who was happy to accomodate the wishes of his singers. He was known for his careful planning of his career and quickly gained a position to be able to set his own demands. His relationship with a rich, married woman strengthened his independence. Unlike his colleagues, Belline only had to compose one opera per year. Even so, it often became a rush job, because his trusted librettist Felice Romani sent his work too late. It did not stop them from writing absolute master pieces together, such as La Sonnambula and Norma. Many more would have followed, if it weren't for Bellini's unfortunate death from amoebiasis at the early age of 34.