Giuseppe Verdi

Classical Music / Composer Datebook : October 10

Greatest 19th Century Italian opera composer who raised the opera's heights.

Giuseppe Verdi's brief biography – his life and list of major works. Famous for operas Rigoletto, Aida, Nabucco, La Traviata. Il Trovatore, and more, popular then and now.      

Verdi's operas range from the tragic to the comic. He was master of theatrical drama, who also inherited the 'bel canto' singing style from predecessors Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini. Verdi's music are instantly recognised, for example, "La donna รจ mobile" (woman is fickle) from Rigoletto or "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore, often used in numerous TV commercials, are as acclaimed today as when it was first written.

Early Life
Giuseppe (Fortunino Francesco) Verdi was born in Roncole near Parma, Italy on October 10 (9?), 1813. He came from the family of small landowners and taverners. However as a composer, his success was so great that by today’s standard, he would be considered a multimillionaire. 

Training and Education
At age 12, he studied with the organist at the main church in nearby Busseto where he became assistant in 1829. In 1831 he was sent to Milan with a scholarship, but was rejected over entrance age and studied privately instead. 

Family Life
At 23, he married Margherita Barezzi. Five years later, the deaths of his two children and his wife brought him to the heights of a nervous collapse, only restored by his opera Nabucco. Ten years later, he scored another success with Rigoletto.
Verdi remarried to soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, his mistress.   

Italian Composer
Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian composer of the Romantic period who took his native operatic style to new heights of dramatic expression. In 1840 he wrote the opera Un giorno di Regno (King of the Day, with librettist Felice Romani), then Nabucco, followed by Ernani and   Rigoletto. Other operas followed: Il trovatore (The Troubadour) and La traviata (The Erring One), Aida, considered by many opera buffs as his masterpiece, Requiem, Otello and his last opera, Falstaff.  Although his name has always been associated with operas, he also wrote songs and a string quartet, as well as a choral work Hymn of Nations for the London Exhibition of 1862. 
Over the period of his long life, he continuously invested his operas, like Aida, with more dramatic depth, making him the greatest Italian composer of the opera, although not necessarily the greatest operatic composer in history. During the mid-1800s, he became a symbol of Italy’s fight for independence from Austria which found himself in conflict with the authorities who felt his operas encouraged Italian nationalism.
Verdi spent his last years in Milan, rich, authoritarian but charitable, revered and honoured. He died in Milan, January 27, 1901, aged 88. 

Here's opera Nabucco with the famous "Song of the Jewish Slaves" ("Va, pensiero", Hebrew slaves chorus.)  WATCH in YouTube - here.  (Embedding has been prohibited.)  

The opera is based on the historical story of the Jewish people's exile by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  The biblical verse this piece is: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion" (Psalms, Chapter 137, 1).

List of Verdi's More known Operas
Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar)
Il Trovatore (The Troubadour)
La Traviata (The Woman Gone Astray or The Erring One)
Simon Boccanegra
Un Ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball)
La Forza del destino (The Force of Destiny)

Video Credit:

The Best of Verdi. Youtube, uploaded by Classical Music 11. Accessed October 10, 2017

Image Credit: 
Giuseppe Verdi. / Public Domain. 
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera by Harold Rosenthal and John Warrack (1972)
The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music, Edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1994.

Note:  This piece was first published at, October 10, 2007. Tel / Oct 10, 2017.   

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