Sicily has a remarkably varied history. From the ninth century BC it served as a Phoenician outpost and was later colonised by the Greeks, then became part of the Carthaginian Empire until absorbed by the Romans in the third century BC. After occupation by the Ostrogoths, in AD 353 it was reconquered by the Byzantines and subsequently ruled in turn by Saracens, Normans, Germans, French and Spanish. Only in the mid-nineteenth century was the island drawn into the unified country of Italy. The historical changes that Sicily has undergone are reflected in its culture.
The music chosen for this tour of Sicily is largely Italian, ranging from the Vienna Court Composer Salieri to Verdi and Leoncavallo. Other composers included are Mozart, Mendelssohn and Bach, the last represented by a characteristic Sicilian dance, and the Italian violinist and composer Paganini.