Verdi: Biography Of A Giant

The famous musician and composer Giuseppe Verdi possessed extraordinary talent. Beyond his work in music, he was a man of many gifts and lived his life with probity, generosity and strength. His artistic and moral legacy earned him an indisputable place in world history.

Parma, Verdi’s homeland, was a duchy awarded successively to Napoleon, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons until 1860, when it became part of the new Kingdom of Italy.

In the midst of the situation of political instability in Italy, Verdi, armed only with his music, managed to contribute to the unification of the country. Passages from his operas served and serve today to enhance the nationalist character of the Italian people.

Uniquely for his historical moment, Verdi did not compose thinking of privileged groups in the society of the time, but for the masses. His compositions had as a cornerstone the passions of humanity, extreme feelings such as love, hate, jealousy and fear.

Early years

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born on October 10, 1813, in Roncole, a village in Parma (Italy). He was born in a humble home, his father, Carlo Giuseppe Verdi, was an innkeeper; his mother, Luisa Utinni, was a weaver. Little Verdi grew up in a wild and rural environment.

Towards the age of eight, and given the boy’s fascination with music, his father gave him an old spinet. This instrument was restored specifically for him and Giuseppe spent hours practicing. He was a gifted child, his enormous talent was discovered by the merchant Antonio Barezzi, who became his protector.

At just twelve years old, the young Verdi moved to Busseto to live in the Barezzi house. The merchant would be responsible for the training of the young man and provide him with the best musical training. During this period, he met his teacher Ferdinando Provesi.

“I love art, when I am alone with my notes, my heart beats and tears fall, my emotion and pleasure are immense.”

-Giuseppe Verdi-

Giuseppe Verdi: the desolation of his youth

When he turned 18 and thanks to the help of his benefactor, Giuseppe Verdi changed his residence again. On this occasion, Milan would be the city that would welcome the young musician. Verdi longed to take the entrance exam at the conservatory in that city; however, the prestigious school did not admit the young man, as he was too old to enter the conservatory.

Added to this drawback was the peculiarity of Verdi and his unorthodox way of playing the piano. Ironically, today, the Milan Conservatory, the same one that did not admit it in his youth, is named after Verdi. This happened after his death, against the will of the famous musician.

In 1836, at 23 years of age, Verdi married his benefactor’s daughter, Margherita Barezzi. The couple had two children. However, they had to face the loss of both of them very early, since they died when they were about a year old.

During this period, the young Verdi was at the head of the Busseto Philharmonic Society and gave private classes, tasks that he made compatible with his work on his debut feature, Oberto.

In 1839, his first play had not yet been released, so the couple decided to return to Milan to manage the staging of the staging with the Scala board. Oberto was released with relative success and had 14 performances. As a consequence, Verdi signed a contract at La Scala to premiere three more works.

They were difficult years for the teacher,  on June 18, 1840, Margherita died of encephalitis, she was only 26 years old. Despite his desolation, Verdi was forced to fulfill his contract.

Under these circumstances, he wrote his second work Un Giorno di Regno , a comic opera. The play premiered on September 5, 1840, but it was a complete failure and was withdrawn from the billboard. Desolated,  and l teacher considers abandoning his career.

Recovering a broken heart

Fortunately, Verdi recovered and resumed his compositions. Under the political circumstances of a divided and oppressed country, Nabucco’s libretto managed to reignite the flame of composition in Verdi’s heart.

The play was premiered at La Scala in 1842 and its triumph this time was enormous. The masses inevitably identified with the conflict recreated in the drama.

Starting with Nabucco , Verdi, who had previously been execrated by Milanese society, consecrated himself as a composer and as an icon of the Italian struggle for the unification of the country. The masses appropriated the “va , pensiero “,  spread throughout the nation, as a song of resistance, “the anthem of resurgence.”

The first masterpieces and the climax of his career

In 1851, his first masterpiece was released: Rigoletto . This success would be followed, two years later, by Il Trovatore and La Traviata . In light of his consolidation as a composer, Verdi concentrated on satisfying his own musical inclination. His works, from then on, sought dramatic certainty about musical conservatism.

“I am not a cultured composer, but an experienced one.”

-Giuseppe Verdi-

The search expression of the composer is exemplified in his work Aida (1871), a piece that has a more careful instrumentation and in which shorter and more integrated arias are appreciated; in other words, it presents less segmentation between movements.

From this moment on, Verdi began his retirement as a composer, although he composed a couple of immortal works based on Shakespeare’s texts : Otello and Falstaff .

Death and legacy of Giuseppe Verdi

At the age of 84, Verdi buried his second wife Giuseppina, who died on November 14, 1897 after several months suffering from bronchitis. The Master would remain in the home of both in the Sant ‘Agata village, where he dedicated himself to the work of the fields.

On a trip to Milan, Giuseppe Verdi suffered a stroke that caused his death on January 27, 1901. His death shocked the country and society, the demonstrations of respect and pain at his death were massive in the city.

Verdi left his fortune to the house of retired musicians that he himself founded to shelter musicians in distress: the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti. According to his will, the bodies of him and his wife lie there.

This house continues to operate today, it is a kind of home for the elderly who have dedicated themselves to music. A place where music flows from every corner, where old opera figures enjoy their retirement and of which Verdi was particularly proud.

Few composers have been able to write operas of political philosophy, but Verdi was an exception, becoming a universal character. The general public loved his work and he was one of the few authors who was able to enjoy success in life and obtain significant financial benefits.

Critics attacked his operas for their themes of rape, suicide and free love affairs. But Verdi overcame the misfortunes in his life and the obstacles that criticism placed on him, managing to put his own parameters first.