Giuseppe Verdi
An Italian Composer Of Opera

Giuseppe Verdi

Italian Musicians Signs

Giuseppe Verdi was a famous composer of Italian opera in the 19th. Century.  His full name was Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi and he was born on 10th. October 1813 in a village called Le Roncole near to Busseto.  His father, Carlo, was the village innkeeper. 

Giuseppe Verdi

At the age of seven, Giuseppe (meaning Joseph in Italian) began his musical career by playing the organ at his local church - San Michele Arcangelo.  Later, he was sent to Milan for a musical education, paid for by a wealthy friend - Antonio Barezzi.  His music teacher in Milan was Vincenzo Lavigna.

In 1833, he settled in Busseto and became Director of The Philharmonic Society.

In 1836, he married the daughter of the wealthy friend who had paid for his musical education in Milan.  She was called Margherita Barezzi.  They had two children - Virginia and Icilio.

Giuseppe's first opera was completed in 1839.  It was called Oberto and it was performed at the famous Italian opera house of Milan - Teatro alla Scala.

Teatro alla Scala

Terrible tragedy struck shortly after the completion of his first opera.  His two children died and shortly afterwards, his wife died also. 

Even though he was grief-stricken, Giuseppe continued to compose operas.  Some of his most famous works are - Nabucco, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Aida, Un Ballo in Maschera, Otello, La Forza del Destino, Falstaff. 

Italian music, italian music, Italian music, italian music(To hear the opera singer Luciano Pavarotti singing 'La donna è mobile' from the opera Rigoletto, click HERE and go to Track 2.)

Later in life, at the age of thirty-eight, Giuseppe married again.  His second wife was Giuseppina Strepponi and she was an opera singer.

Verdi''s wife

Verdi's final opera was based on Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor.  It is called Falstaff and it is a comedy.

Il Risorgimento (1861) was the joining of the small Italian states in order to make one big unified country with one king - Vittorio Emanuele.  Giuseppe Verdi was a great supporter of Il Risorgimento and there was a rather strange coincidence regarding Giuseppe Verdi's surname and the initials of the new Italian king's official title.  The king's title was Vittorio Emanuele Re D' Italia.  The initials spell the surname of Giuseppe Verdi!  This became a well-known and amusing story at the time.  People used to call out 'Viva Verdi!' and the initials V.E.R.D.I. could be seen in places all over Italy.

The king wished to give Giuseppe a title of nobility but he refused to accept it, telling the king, 'I am a peasant.'

Verdi became very rich and famous during his lifetime.  He was known to give generously to charity and he set up a retirement home for musicians in Milan - called Casa Verdi. This home exists today.

In 1897, his second wife died from pneumonia.  Once again, he was grief-stricken.  Giuseppe died after suffering a sudden stroke in January 1901.  The tomb of Giuseppe Verdi and his wife is in the courtyard of the musicians' retirement house, Casa Verdi. Below is a drawing of the funeral procession leading to the retirement house.

 Verdi''s funeral

To visit 'Claudia's Italian Opera Zone', click HERE.
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