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Verdi, Giuseppe (Fortunino Francesco)

Verdi, Giuseppe (Fortunino Francesco) (b Le Roncole, nr. Busseto, Parma, 1813; d Milan, 1901). It. composer. Son of innkeeper. Taught by local organist, Antonio Barezzi, a wholesale grocer and merchant, who liked mus., recognized his mus. ability and offered to pay for him to go to Milan Cons., but authorities would not admit him, partly because of poor pf.-playing. Studied in Milan privately for 2 years. Returned to Busseto, where he continued studies, directed town's mus. activities, and married his patron Barezzi's daughter. Completed opera Rocester (now lost) in 1836, but Oberto was prod. at La Scala 1839 with some success, followed by comic opera, Un giorno di regno (1840), a failure. Between 1838 and 1840, Verdi's wife and 2 children died. Prostrate with grief, vowed to abandon comp., but was persuaded to compose Nabucco (1841); its triumphant success made him most prominent of young It. composers. There-after wrote series of operas, some more successful than others at their premières, but each eagerly sought by impresarios. In 1847 he comp. I masnadieri for Her Majesty's, London, with Jenny Lind and Lablache heading the cast. In 1849 he bought a farming estate at Sant’ Agata, near Busseto, to which he returned whenever possible. In the sensitive political climate of 19th-cent. It., Verdi's libs. (e.g. for Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, etc.) frequently caused trouble with the censors, especially when they dealt with historical events which could be interpreted as referring to contemporary political events, Verdi's sympathies for It. independence from Austria being well known. In 1860, after the It. war of independence, he was elected a Deputy in first It. nat. parliament, resigning 5 years later. His next 3 operas were written for perf. outside It., La forza del destino for St Petersburg, 1862, Don Carlos for Paris, 1867, and Aida for Cairo, 1871. 16 years were to pass before the next opera, but in 1874 the great Requiem, comp. in memory of the poet Manzoni, was perf. in Milan. It was an immediate success. Verdi cond. 15 perfs. of it in Paris in 1874 and 1875, 4 in Vienna, and 3 in London. In 1879, his publisher Ricordi suggested Shakespeare's Othello as an operatic subject, and Boito, with whom Verdi's relations had hitherto been cool, submitted a draft lib. The work (Otello) was f.p. in Milan in 1887 and was acclaimed as the supreme achievement not only of its composer but of It. opera. In 1889 Boito suggested a further collaboration, on Falstaff. Its prod. at Milan in 1893, though a personal triumph, was not such a success as that of Otello and it has taken until recent times for this masterpiece of comic opera to become a popular favourite. In 1859 Verdi had married the sop. Giuseppina Strepponi, with whom he had lived for a decade before that. Her death in 1897 marked the end of Verdi's composing career. He died at the Hotel Milano, a short distance from La Scala, leaving most of his money to a home for elderly musicians which he had founded in Milan.

 Verdi's stature as one of the 2 or 3 greatest opera composers is unchallengeable. Though his technical mastery continually developed and was refined, and his powers of characterization became more subtle and expressive, the essential Verdi—direct, noble, and intense—remained unchanging from Nabucco to Falstaff. There was no ‘change of style’ in Otello: the lib. drew from Verdi his greatest mus., but it is still recognizably the work of the composer of Il trovatore and Simon Boccanegra. In recent years the earlier works have been revived and have revealed their considerable merits—the comic Un giorno di regno, for example, is particularly fine. In operas like Rigoletto, La traviata, and Aida, Verdi put on to the stage operatic characters who are as real as the characters in Shakespeare. His 3 Shakespeare operas are major achievements and his failure to compose King Lear, though he toyed with the idea for many years, must ever be regretted. Prin. works:OPERAS: Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio (1835–9, rev. 1840–1); Un giorno di regno (1840); Nabucco (1841, rev. 1842); I Lombardi alla prima crociata (1842–3, rev. 1843), adapted to Fr. lib. as Jérusalem, with rev. and some new mus., 1847; Ernani (1843–4); I due Foscari (1844, rev. 1845–6); Giovanna d'Arco (1844–5, rev. 1845); Alzira (1845); Attila (1845–6); Macbeth (1846–7, rev. 1864–5); I masnadieri (1846–7); Il corsaro (1847–8); La battaglia di Legnano (1848–9); Luisa Miller (1849); Stiffelio (1850), adapted to new lib., with some new mus., as Aroldo (1856–7); Rigoletto (1850–1); Il trovatore (1851–2, rev. 1856); La traviata (1852–3, rev. 1854); Les Vêpres siciliennes (1854); Simon Boccanegra (1856–7, lib. and mus. rev. 1880–1); Un ballo in maschera (1857–8); La forza del destino (1861–2, rev. 1868–9); Don Carlos (1866–7, rev. as 4-act work, with some new music, 1882–3); Aida (1870); Otello (1884–6, rev. 1887); Falstaff (1889–92, rev. 1893 and 1894).CHORAL: Inno delli nazioni (Hymn of the Nations), ten., ch., orch. (1862); Libera me, sop., ch., orch. (1868–9, incorp. into Requiem, 1874); Pater Noster, unacc. ch.; Ave Maria, sop., str. (1879–80); Requiem (1873–4); Quattro pezzi sacri: Ave Maria, unacc. ch. (1888–9), Stabat Mater, ch., orch. (1895–7), Laudi alla Vergine Maria, women's ch. (1888–9), Te Deum, sop., ch., orch. (1895–7).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qt. in E minor (1873).SONGS: 6 Romances (1838); L'esule (The Exile); La seduzione; Notturno: Guarda che bianca luna (Nocturne: See the pale moon) (1839); Chi i bei di m'adduce ancora (Who will bring back the beautiful days?) (1842); 6 Romances (1845); Il poveretto (The beggar) (1847); Suona la tromba (Sound the trumpet) (1848); L'Abandonnée (The forsaken woman) (1849); Fiorellin che sorge appena (The little flower that rises) (1850); La preghiera del poeta (The poet's prayer) (1858); Il brigidin (The rosette) (1863); Tu dici che non m'ami (You say you do not love me) (1869).

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Verdi, Giuseppe

Giuseppe Verdi (vâr´dē, Ital. jōōzĕp´pā vĕr´dē), 1813–1901, foremost Italian composer of opera, b. Le Roncole. Verdi, the son of an innkeeper, showed a precocious talent for the organ but was refused entrance to the Milan Conservatory as having been inadequately trained. He studied with Lavigna of La Scala, and in 1839 his first opera, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, was produced. His third opera, Nabucodonosor (1842, also known as Nabucco; the story of Nebuchadnezzar), was enormously successful. The next work I Lombardi alla prima Crociata (1843), concerning the First Crusade, assured Verdi's position at La Scala. Among his major successes of the next years were Ernani (1844), Rigoletto (1851), considered his first masterpiece, Il Trovatore (1853), and La Traviata (1853). These works showed him to be a master of dramatic composition and established him securely. Verdi's style was further developed in Un ballo in maschera [a masked ball] (1859) and La forza del destino [the power of destiny] (1862). In Aïda (1871) all the elements of his earlier style reach maturity, the music assuming a new dramatic importance to the story. Verdi next composed his great Requiem (1874) in memory of the writer Manzoni. Verdi greatly admired Shakespeare, on whose plays three of his operas are based—Macbeth (1847; rev. version 1865) and the masterpieces of his old age, Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893; based on The Merry Wives of Windsor), for both of which Boito was librettist. In these two late works, finished at ages 73 and 80, Verdi astonished the musical world with a power, subtlety, and brilliance that marked the culmination of Italian grand opera. Verdi was greatly honored during his lifetime. He was elected a senator and offered a marquisate, which he declined. His superbly melodic works are performed throughout the world.

Bibliography

See his letters, ed. by C. Osborne (1971); biographies by F. Walker (1962), G. W. Martin (1963), J. Wechsberg (1974), M. J. Phillips-Matz (1994), and J. Rosselli (2000); study of his operas by J. Budden (3 vol., 1978–81); G. Wills, Verdi's Shakespeare (2011).

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Verdi, Giuseppe

Verdi, Giuseppe (1813–1901) Italian composer. His early operas displayed an original and lively talent and a promising sense of the dramatic. Up to 1853, his masterpieces were Rigoletto (1851), Il trovatore (1853), and La traviata (1853). Aïda (1867) shows a development in style, with richer and more imaginative orchestration. With Verdi's last three operas, Don Carlos (1884), Otello (1887), and Falstaff (1893), Italian opera reached its greatest heights. Among other compositions are several sacred choral works, including the Requiem (1874).

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