Giuseppe Verdi, classical music composer

Giuseppe Verdi

Biography

Giuseppe Verdi (October 10, 1813 – January 27, 1901)

Though considered one of Italy's most influential composers of the 19th century, Giuseppe Verdi was actually born a Frenchman. Born on October 10th, 1813, the village of Verdi's birth, Le Roncole, was actually a part of the First French Empire after the annexation of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza. While still a child, Verdi and his family moved to nearby Busetto. The relocation proved advantageous for Verdi's music career. In Busetto, he received his first lessons in composition and was able to benefit from the large library kept by the local Jesuit school.

At the age of twenty, Verdi left for Milan where he continued his private instruction and attended many operatic performances. He eventually returned to Busetto and took the position of town music master. Largely through the support of a local merchant by the name of Antonio Barezzi, Verdi gave his first public performance in Barezzi's home in 1830. Barezzi further arranged for Verdi to be his daughter Margherita's music teacher. Romance blossomed and the two eventually wed on May 4th, 1836. Verdi and his wife had two children, both of which, unfortunately, died during infancy. Margherita also passed away, at the age of twenty-six, on June 18th 1840.

In November 1839, Milan's famous La Scala opera house produced Verid's first opera, Oberto. Though not a resounding success, it was enough to persuade La Scala's impresario, Bartolomeo Merelli, to contract Verdi for two more operas. This initial success was, however, short lived. It was while working on the first of the two operas for Merelli that Margherita died. Furthermore, the opera, premiered in September 1840, was a flop. The two events compounded together lead Verdi to give up composition for good. Merelli, however, persuaded Verdi to continue on with the next opera. Given in March 1842, his next opera, Nabucco, was a great success and helped to spread Verdi's fame.

Over the following decade, Verdi produced fourteen operas, among them I Lombardi (later revised and renamed Jérusalem) and Macbeth. One of the last of the operas from this period, Rigoletto, based on a Victor Hugo play, became one of Verdi's greatest successes. Following closely on the success of Rigoletto came La traviata in 1853. Based on a play by Alexander Dumas, fils, La traviata is Verdi's most popular opera.

More successful operas followed Rigoletto and La traviata, such as Un ballo in maschera and La forza del destino. Aida, best known for its "Grand March," is thought to have been commissioned for the celebration of the opening of the Suez Canal and received its world premiere in Cairo in 1871.

In 1869, Verdi was one of several composers asked to compose a section of a requiem mass in memory of another great opera composer, Gioachino Rossini. The project, however, was cancelled at the last minute. Verdi held on to the "Libera Me" section he had composed and, five years later, used it in his own setting of the complete requiem mass. Written in honor of the novelist and poet, Alessandro Manzoni who had passed away in 1873, it premiered in May 1874.

Though after Aida he spent time revising the scores of his earlier opera, Verdi produced two more operas. Otello, based on William Shakespeare's play, premiered in Milan in 1887. Unlike Verdi's earlier operas, and much of Italian opera itself for that matter, the music of Otello, perhaps following the lead of Richard Wagner, is continuous with no definitive breaks between its numbers. Six years later, in 1893, Verdi composed his last opera, Falstaff, based on Victor Hugo's translation of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. In 1897, Verdi completed his last compositions—a set of four sacred works. The set is comprised of an Ave Maria for mixed chorus, a Stabat Mater for mixed chorus and orchestra, Laudi alla Vergine Maria for female chorus, and a Te Deum for double chorus and orchestra.

During a stay in Milan, Verdi suffered a stroke on January 21st, 1901. His health declined rapidly and he died only six days later on January 27th. Initially buried in Milan's Cimitero Monumentale, Verdi's body was soon after moved to the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a rest home Verdi had established for retired musicians.

Composer Title Date Action
Giuseppe Verdi Esultate, from Otello 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Gia nella notte densa, from Otello 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Scene from Act 2, Otello 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Niun mi tema, from Otello 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Celeste Aida, from Aida 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Celeste Aida, from Aida (in Russian) 04/08/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Di quella pira, from Il Trovatore 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Nile duet, from Aida 04/08/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata potpourri 06/21/2010 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi "Esultate" from Otello 09/15/2012 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi "Niun mi tema" from Otello 09/15/2012 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Judgment scene, from Aida 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Va Pensiero, from Nabucco 10/08/2012 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Quartet Bella figlia dell'amore, from Rigoletto 09/30/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Duet Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo, from La Traviata 09/30/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Miserere, from Il Trovatore 09/30/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Final scene, Act 4, from Aida 09/30/2013 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Ella giammai m'amò, from Act IV of Don Carlo 10/03/2014 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi E lui!... Dio che nell'alma infondere..., from Act II of Don Carlo 10/03/2014 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Tu che le vanita, from Act V of Don Carlo 10/03/2014 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi La forza del destino "Melodia Leonore" 01/21/2015 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Gualtier malde! Caro nom, from Act I of Rigoletto 10/02/2016 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Bella figlia dell’amore, from Act III of Rigoletto 10/02/2016 Play Add to playlist
Giuseppe Verdi Clarinet Solo La forza del destino 09/10/2017 Play
Giuseppe Verdi Tutte le feste al tempio, from Rigoletto 10/08/2017 Play Add to playlist