Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian romantic composer. Verdi focused more on composing operas and his compositions are performed in opera houses throughout the world. His works had significant association with popular cultures; "La donna è mobile" from his opera Rigoletto and "Va, pensiero" (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from opera Nabucco are examples for that. Verdi had composed many classic operas and no wonder that his works dominated the opera repertoire for more than a century after their creation. He had amazing musical talent that many of his compositions are considered as classic operas and are adored and revered by musicians all over the world even now. Being an amazingly talented music enthusiast, his works were noted for the musical luster they embodied. Verdi’s compositions were influenced by great musicians like Gaetano Donizetti, Saverio Mercadante, Rossini, Bellini and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Lacking any strong schooling in the discipline of music, his achievements were purely out of his strong innate taste for music. Verdi himself had said that, "Of all composers, past and present, I am the least learned." Read on and learn more about this Italian musical legend.
Verdi was born as son of Carlo Giuseppe Verdi and Luigia Uttini in Le Roncolein the Parma region of Italy, near Busseto, on 10th October 1813 (in some places it is given as 9th October). He was baptized in a Roman Catholic Church a day after birth and was named as Joseph Fortuninus Franciscus. Carlo Giuseppe Verdi, Verdi's father, took his son to Busseto in order to record birth and the newborn’s name was recorded as Joseph Fortunin François. Verdi’s parents decided to move to Bussetto and Verdi was brought up and educated there. Verdi used to visit the large library in Busseto, which belonged to the local Jesuit school. Verdi went to Milan when he was twenty years old. He continued his studies there taking private lessons on counterpoint and attended operatic performances and Germen music concerts. Milan's beaumonde association sensed a good composer in Verdi and convinced him to pursue a career as a theatre composer.
After spending some years in Milan, Verdi returned to Busseto as town music master. Antonio Barezzi, a local merchant, who had supported Verdi’s ambitions in music while at Milan, extended his helping hands at Busseto as well. Verdi’s first public performance took place at Barezzi’s home in 1830. Impressed by Verdi’s talent, Berezzi asked him to take music lessons to his daughter Margherita. This teacher-student relationship then became more intense that they fell in love with each other and this culminated in their marriage on 4th May 1836. The couple had two children Virginia Maria Luigia born on 26 March 1837and Icilio Romano born on 11 July 1838. Unfortunately, both their children died in their infancy. Bad luck still followed the couple and on 18th June 1840, Margerita died of encephalitis. No need to say that Verdi, who adored his wife and children, was deeply devastated by their untimely deaths. Verdi was leading a lonely life when he met Giuseppina Strepponi, a soprano and entered into a live-in relationship for several years. Verdi purchased an estate in Busseto and his parents lived in this villa, while Verdi was still living with Strepponi. Verdi lost his mother in 1851 and after this he made a new villa namely ‘Villa Verdi’ in Villanova sull'Arda and this was his permanent abode until his death. It was during this time Verdi composed one of his greatest masterpieces – Rigoletto. Verdi and Strepponi got married on 29th August 1859 at Collonges-sous-Salève, near Geneva.
Verdi’s first opera ‘Oberto’ composed in 1839 was a great success. Bartolomeo Merelli, promoter of his first producer La Scala, offered Verdi two more works which Verdi happily accepted. It was while working on his second opera that his wife expired. This opera, which was given in 1840, was a big flop and Verdi decided to give up his career aspirations in music. Merrelli supported him and persuaded him not to give up music for whatsoever reasons. It was out of Merrelli’s persuasion that Verdi composed Nabucco in 1842, the opening performance of which made Verdi a famous figure in composition. The years between 1855 and 1867 witnessed an outpouring of great Operas. Some important works during this time are Un ballo in maschera (1859), La forza del destino (commissioned in 1861 but not performed till 1862), revised version of Macbeth (1865).
In 1869, Verdi started working on a section for a requiem mass organized in memory of Gioachino Rossini. He was asked to compose this requiem as a collection of sections composed by Rossini’s Italian contemporaries. Though Verdi compiled the sections and complete the requiem, it got cancelled at the last minute. Angelo Mariani, a long-term friend of Verdi, was supposed to conduct this requiem. Verdi blamed that it is Mariani’s lack of enthusiasm that the project got cancelled. This accuse resulted in the permanent cracks in their relationship. Famous soprano Teresa Stolz, who was betrothed to Mariani, left him and soon joined Verdi and shared a good professional relationship with him. They were doubted to have maintained a romantic relationship as well. Five years after the requiem got cancelled Verdi reworked on his "Libera Me" section in it and made it a part of his Requiem Mass, composed in honor of the famous novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni. This composition was first performed at the cathedral in Milan in 1874.
Verdi's grand opera, Aida, was thought to be included in the opening ceremony of Suez Canal in 1869 but, he turned down that invitation as he was planning to write an ode for the new opera house he was planning to inaugurate. As soon as this opera house opened, the organizers of the opening ceremony approached him again but he turned it down once again. They then warned him that they will approach Charles for the same and soon after this Verdi began to show interest in conducting for the function and signed the agreement in June 1870.
Teresa Stolz was associated with many of Verdi’s work, including Aida and the Requiem. This relationship became more and more intense that a Florence newspaper even criticized both of them for the same. It is still unknown that what sort of a relationship they shared but evidently after Giuseppina Strepponi’s died, they became close companions which lasted till his death.
Stabat Mater was his last composition and he completed this work in 1897. He had an attack of stoke on 21st January 1901 while at Milan and died six days later, on 27th January 1901. Verdi was honored with a state funeral which was marked with combined orchestras and choir by Italian musicians, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Though initially buried at Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, his remains were taken to Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, a rest home for retired musicians, established by Verdi.
Il Trovatore, 1853
La traviata, 1853
Un ballo in maschera, 1859
La forza del destino, 1861 (not performed until 1862)
Revised version of Macbeth (1865)
1813: Verdi was born in Le Roncolein the Parma region of Italy, near Busseto.
1830: Verdi’s first public performance took place at Barezzi’s home.
1836: Verdi married Margherita.
1837: The couple’s first child Virginia Maria Luigia was born.
1838: Virginia Maria Luigia died, the couple’s second child Icilio Romano was born.
1839: Icilio Romano died; Verdi’s first opera ‘Oberto’ was composed and became a great success.
1840: Margerita died of encephalitis.
1851: Verdi lost his mother
1859: Verdi married Strepponi at Collonges-sous-Salève, near Geneva, after a long period of co-habitation.
1870: Verdi signed agreement for Suez Canal Inaugural Function.
1901: Verdi Died in Milan