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Giuseppe Verdi Biography

Home > Music > V > Verdi, Giuseppe > Biography

Genres: Classical/Opera

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born on October 10, 1813 in a village near Busseto, France. Verdi was an Italian romantic composer of opera music. Some of his most famous pieces are: “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto; “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco; “Libiamo ne' lieti calici” from La traviata; and the “Grand March” from Aida. Verdi was drawn to music from an early age and began his lessons in composition when he was six years old. By the time he was 20, Verdi moved to Milan for private lessons in counterpoint. It was during this time in Milan, while attending operatic performances that Verdi decided to pursue a career as a theatre composer. Verdi gave his first public performance in 1830 in his hometown of Busseto, France.

In 1840, while Verdi was working on his first opera, his wife and two children died of encephalitis. Verdi was devastated and poured his grief into his opera, “Oberto” which was a success and secured a contract for Verdi with La Scala's impresario, Bartolomeo Merelli, for three more operas. Verdi's second opera, “Un giorno di regno” was a commercial failure and sent Verdui into despair, threatening to never make music again. Merelli persuaded Verdi to continue writing; his third opera, “Nabucco” arrived in 1942 and made Verdi famous overnight. For the next decade, Verdi wrote 14 more operas. Of note were “Macbeth” in 1847 and “I Lombardi.” Verdi's masterpiece, “Rigoletto,” premiered in Venice in 1851 and was based on a play written by Victor Hugo. 1853 saw “La traviata,” from Verdi, which went on to be the most popular of Verdi's operas. The following decade brought the likes of: “Un ballo in maschera” (1859); “La forza del destino” (1862); “Les vêpres siciliennes” (1855); and “Don Carlos” (1867).

Verdi's opera, “Aida” (1871) was another sweeping success for Verdi; “Otello” arrived in 1887 as Verdi was in the twilight of his career. The opera was well-received but considered by critics and fans alike not to meet the standards of Verdi's earlier work. Verdi's last opera, “Falstaff,” which emerged as the 1880s came to an end, was a huge international success. 1897 saw Verdi complete his last compositions that considered of four separate pieces of work: “Ave Maria;” “Stabat Mater;” “Laudi alla Vergine Maria;” and “Te Deum.” In 1901, Verdi suffered a stroke, which resulted in his health deteriorating over the next week. He died on January 27, 1901.