Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi
10.10.1813 - 27.01.1901


Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was one of the most influential and famous Italian Romantic opera composers of the 19th century. No doubt, Verdi’s masterworks had dominated through the century.

Although his work was sometimes criticized for a tendency toward melodrama and using a generally diatonic musical idioms but it is still frequently being performed in many opera houses throughout the world.

Verdi was born on 9 or 10 October in 1813; at the house of Luigia Uttini and Carlo Giuseppe Verdi, in Le Roncole. On the next day of his birth Verdi was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in Latin as Joseph Fortuninus Franciscus.

During Joseph Fortuninus Franciscus childhood, Verdi's parents moved from Piacenza to Busseto, where Verdi started to take his first lessons in composition. Later on, Verdi went to Milan to continue his studies. At that time Verdi was twenty years old.

In Milan, Verdi took private lessons in counterpoint while joining the German music concerts. Here Milan's beaumonde association convinced Verdi to start his career as a theatre composer. In the mid 1830s, Verdi attended the Salotto Maffei salons in Milan, hosted by Clara Maffei.

After returning to Busseto, Verdi became a very popular musician in his town. Here a local merchant and music lover, Antonio Barezzi, supported Verdi in the accomplishment of his musical ambitions and finally Verdi gave his first public performance at Barezzi’s home in 1830.

The Barezzi invited Verdi as a music teacher for his daughter Margherita, who later on, fell deeply in love with Giuseppe and soon they both got married on May 4, 1836. Margherita gave birth to two beautiful children, Virginia Maria Luigia and Icilio Romano respectively, but both children died in infancy, while Verdi was busy with his first opera. Verdi’s wife, Margherita died on June 18, 1840, when he was working on his second opera, namely “Un giorno di regno”. Although, Verdi was devastated by his wife and children deaths but he still devoted his life to music. After the death of Margherita Barezzi, Verdi again fell in love with Giuseppina Strepponi, and they got married on August 29, 1859 at Collonges-sous-Salève, near Geneva.

Verdi produced his first opera, namely “Oberto”, in November 1839 and got a big success. After achieving this great triumph he signed a contract with Bartolomeo Merelli La Scala's impresario, for producing two more such works.

Verdi’s opera that was performed in September 1840 was full of despair and the author vowed to give up musical composition forever. Later on Verdi’s friend Merelli persuaded him to write Nabucco, which opened new doors for Verdi’s fame.

In the decade after 1843, that was described by Verdi as his "galley years" as these included his I Lombardi (which was later renamed as Jerusalem) in 1843 and Ernani in 1844.

In 1851, Verdi produced his greatest masterpieces namely Rigoletto, which premiered in Venice. This opera became quickly successful and got great popularity. After that he made three major operas of "middle period" in Rome and in Venice.

Since 1855 to 1867, Verdi performed a number of operas namely “UN ballo in maschera” (1859), “La forza Del destino”, “Les vêpres siciliennes” (1855) and “Don Carlos” (1867). These Verdi’s operas are still being performed in their revised Italian versions even nowadays.

In 1869, Verdi was requested to compose a section for a requiem mass in memory of Gioachino Rossini. Although Verdi’s requiem was compiled and completed, suddenly it was cancelled and wasn’t performed in Verdi's lifetime. This Requiem was first performed at the cathedral in Milan in 1874.

Similarly, Verdi's grand opera, Aida, was decided to be performed at the opening and celebrating of the Suez Canal in 1869, but later on Verdi turned down the Khedive's invitation to write an "ode" for the new opera house. In the next year Verdi started to revise some of his earlier scores and some new versions of Don Carlos, La forza Del destino, and Simon Boccanegra.

Verdi's last opera “Falstaff” had an international success and became one of the supreme comic operas of that time, which proved Verdi's naturally gifted genius as a contrapuntist.

In 1894, Verdi composed a short ballet for a French production of Shakespeare’s Othello, which was Verdi’s last and pure orchestral composition. Similarly, in 1897 Verdi completed his last composition in a traditional Latin text - “Stabat Mater”. Verdi’s last four works include: Ave Maria (for mixed chorus), Stabat Mater (for mixed chorus), Laudi alla Vergine Maria (for female chorus) and Te Deum (for double chorus).

Verdi died on January 27, 1901 because of physical sickness. Nowadays Verdi’s works considered as the largest treasure in the history of Italian music.

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Ramón Vargas - Verdi - Songs
Vocal and instrumental music
Margaret Price - Verdi Songs
Vocal and instrumental music

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