Gioachino Antonio Rossini (1792 –1868) was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, instrumental and piano pieces. His best known operas include the Italian comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola, and the French-language epics Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell. An affinity for inspired, song-like melodies is evident throughout his scores, which led perhaps to the nickname "The Italian Mozart". Until his retirement in 1829, Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in history. He is quoted as joking, "Give me the laundress' bill and I will even set that to music.”
Prise d’Erivan comes from a set of three military marches honoring victories of Nicholas I. Galina Kopytova speculates that the emissary who presented the proposal to compose the set was Count Karl Osipovicˇ Pozzo di Borgo, the Russian ambassador to France under both Alexander I and Nicholas I. Several Russian military campaigns had drawn unfavorable notice outside Russia, and the Count hoped, presumably, that Rossini’s Marches would help cast a more favorable public image for the Tsar’s. Rossini seems not
to have understood that an association with the Tsar might damage his own reputation.
Prise d’Erivan relates to a victory achieved by General Ivan Paskevich during the Russo-Persian War of 1826 -28. In July, 1826, Persian troops under the command of Prince Abbas Mirza invaded Russian territories. Paskevich led the Russian army sent to repel the Persian
forces. Winter weather forced the suspension of action until May of 1827 when Paskevich’s troops began to advance toward Erivan, the capital city of the region. Erivan fell on October 1 after a six-day siege. As a reward for the victory, Nicholas I created for Paskevich the title of Count of Erivan. The distinction carried with it a million rubles and a diamondmounted sword.