Giuseppe Verdi was born on the 10th of October 1813 in
Roncole di Busseto, in the province of Parma. His father, Carlo Verdi,
is a host, while his mother works as a spinner.
Since the age of four he takes music lessons from the
priest of the village; at seven his father gives him a spinet as a present,
and he uses it to get practice in playing, and at nine he begins composing.
In 1831 he moves to the house of Antonio Barezzi, merchant and fond of
music from Busseto, affectionate to Verdi family and to the young Giuseppe,
who offers him the opportubity of developing his gift thanks to better
financial means. There he meets Margherita, daughter of Barrezzi, to whom
he gives piano and singing lessons.
The village of Busseto becomes too small for Verdi: in 1832 he moves to
Milan and applies for the Academy of Music, but incredibly he is not admitted
due to his age. But he does not give up hope.
In 1836 he marries Marrgherita, Barezzi’s daughter.
In 1837 Virginia, the first daughter, was born, and the following year
Icilio was born. Meanwhile, Verdi begins following his composition vein,
already theatre and Opera oriented, and due to this he moves to Milan
in February 1839.
He makes his debut with Oberto at the Scala theatre
in Milan, obtaining a fair success. The sudden death of his wife Margherita
in 1840 and immediately afterwards of his two sons Virginia and Icilio
disturb and sadden him. Overwhelmed and broken-hearted, he does not give
in. On the contrary, in this very period composes a comic opera Un
giorno di regno, that turns out to be a fiasco. Disappointed, Verdi
thinks of abandoning the music forever, but only two years later, in 1842,
his "Nabucco" obtains a great success at the Scala theatre.
During the ten following years, until March 1853, date of the first night
of Traviata, Verdi composes 16 operas, one every 8 months on
average. This is his most fruitful period.
Always in this period, his relationship with the soprano
Giuseppina Strepponi strengthens.
In 1847 he travels between Paris and London in order
to perform I masnadieri, a great success of his. In 1848 he moves
to Paris, beginning to live together with Strepponi. His creative vein
continues to be fruitful, and between 1851 and 1853 he composes the famous
"Trilogia popolare", well known for the three titles that includes, i.e.
Rigoletto, Trovatore and Traviata (with which there
is also I vespri siciliani). The success obtained by these operas
is sensational. Verdi, after winning a great fame, moves with Strepponi
to Busseto, in Sant’Agata farm, where he would live for some time. In
1857 Simon Boccanegra is performed and in 1859 Un ballo in maschera.
In the same year he finally marries Giuseppina Strepponi.
From 1861, besides his artistic life, his political commitment
begins. He is elected Member of the first Italian Parliament and in 1874
he is elected senator. During these years he composes La forza del
destino, Aida and Messa da requiem, the last one
thought and composed as a celebration for Alessandro Manzoni’s death.
In 1887, at the age of 80, he incredibly composes Otello, comparing
himself once more with Shakespeare, while in 1893, with the comic opera
Falstaff, another unique and absolute masterpiece, he says goodbye
to the theatre and retires to Sant’Agata.
He dies on the 27th of January 1901 at the
Hotel de Milan.
The first spinet of Verdi
Organ at church of San Michele
House where Verdi was born, before restauration
Giuseppe Verdi, 1886,
portrait byBoldini. Roma, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
Giuseppe Verdi, 1867