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Giuseppe Verdi

By

Giuseppi Verdi

Giuseppi Verdi

Giuseppi Verdi

Born:

October 9 or 10, 1813 - Le Roncole, Italy

Died:

January 27, 1901 - Milan, Italy

Verdi Quick Facts:

 

  • Some of Verdi's musical styles are so distinctive, many composers - past and present - would never use them. It's as if he owns the copy right to them.
  • If Verdi's fame and success were translated into today's terms, he would be a rock star. Apart from being a leading musical figure, he was a political figure iconized by hundreds of thousands of Italians.
  • Much of Verdi's music is used outside of the opera house throughout the world; his "Triumphal March" from Aida is used in many ceremonies including high school coronations.

 

Verdi's Family and Childhood:

Born as Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi to father, Carlo Verdi and mother, Luigia Uttini, there are many rumors and exaggerated stories surrounding Verdi's family and childhood. Though Verdi has said his parents were poor, uneducated peasants, his father was actually a land-owning innkeeper, and his mother was a spinner. While still a young child, Verdi and his family moved to Busseto. Verdi often visited the local library of the Jesuit school, further enriching his education. When he was seven years old, his father gave him a small gift - a spinet. Verdi had expressed a love and fascination for music to which his father kindly obliged. Several years later, the spinet was repaired for free by a local harpsichord maker due Verdi's good disposition.

Verdi's Teenage Years and Young Adulthood:

Having excelled in music, Verdi was introduced to Ferdinando Provesi, maestro of the local Philharmonic. For several years, Verdi studied with Provesi and was given the position of assistant conductor. When Verdi turned 20, having learned a steady foundation in composition and instrumental proficiency, he set out for Milan to attend the renowned conservatory of music. After arriving, he was quickly turned away - he was two years older than the age limit. Still determined to study music, Verdi took matters into his own hands and found Vincenzo Lavigna, who was once a harpsichordist for La Scala. Verdi studied counterpoint with Lavigna for three years. Apart from his studies, he attended numerous theaters to take up as many performing arts as he could. This would later serve as the foundation for his operas.

Verdi's Early Adult Life:

After spending several years in Milan, Verdi returned home to Busseto and became the town's music master. His benefactor, Antonio Barezzi, who supported his trip to Milan, arranged Verdi's first public performance. Barezzi also hired Verdi to teach music to his daughter, Margherita Barezzi. Verdi and Margherita quickly fell in love in married in 1836. Verdi completed his first opera, Oberto, in 1837. With it came mild success and Verdi began composing his second opera, Un giorno di regno. The couple had two children in 1837 and 1838 respectively, but sadly both children lived barely past their first birthdays. Tragedy struck once more when his wife died less than a year after his second child's death. Verdi was utterly devastated, and expectedly so, his second opera was a complete failure and performed only once.

Verdi's Mid Adult Life:

After the death of his family, Verdi fell into depression and swore to never compose music again. However, his friend persuaded him to write another opera. Verdi's third opera, Nabucco, was a huge success. Within the next ten years, Verdi wrote fourteen operas - each as successful as the one before it - which launched him into stardom. In 1851, Verdi was began a relationship with one of his star sopranos, Giuseppina Strepponi, and moved in together prior to marriage. Apart from dealing with the stress of his "scandalous" affair, Verdi was also under censorship from Austria as they occupied Italy. Despite nearly giving up on the opera due to the censors, Verdi composed another masterpiece, Rigoletto in 1853. The operas that followed were equally sublime: Il Trovatore and La Traviata.

Verdi's Late Adult Life:

Much of Verdi's works were adored by the public. His fellow Italians would shout "Viva Verdi" at the end of every performance. His works represented a shared "anti-Austrian" sentiment known as the Risorgimento and resonated throughout the country. During the last stage of his life, apart from revising earlier compositions, Verdi wrote several more operas including Aida, Otello, and Falstaff (his last composed opera before his death). He also wrote his famous requiem mass, which includes his "Dies Irae". After suffering a stroke on January 21, 1901, in a Milan hotel, Verdi died less than a week later.

Operas by Verdi

 

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