Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
How to say the name:
‘Verdi’ is said like Ver-dee. ‘Giuseppe’ is said like ‘Joo-sep-pee’.
Verdi’s grave in Milan
10th October 1813 in Le Roncole (near Busseto), Italy.
27th January 1901 in Milan, Italy.
Casa di Riposo per Musicisti (House of Rest for Musicians) in Milan.
Type of Music:
Some famous pieces:
- ‘Grand March’ from the opera Aida. (See below for a video.)
- La donna è mobile (Woman are Fickle) from the opera Rigoletto.
- Va, Pensiero (known as the ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ in English) from the opera Nabucco. (See below for a video.)
Some great pieces:
- Nabucco—an opera.
- Macbeth—an opera.
- Rigoletto—an opera.
- Il Trovatore (The Troubadour)—an opera.
- La Traviata (The Fallen Woman)—an opera.
- Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball)—an opera.
- La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny)—an opera.
- Don Carlos—an opera.
- Aida—an opera.
- Otello (Othello)—an opera.
- Falstaff—an opera.
- Requiem—not an opera!!
Some interesting facts:
- He was the greatest composer of Italian opera who has ever lived!
- He was one of the two great opera composers of the 19th century (the other was Wagner whose music is very different).
- He nearly didn’t compose any good music at all! One of his early operas (Un giorno di regno—‘One Day Reign’) wasn’t liked at all. This happened at the same time as his wife and two children died. It was nearly enough to stop him composing for good!
- His operas are full of catchy tunes. Many people will know some of these tunes, even if they don’t know opera or listen to classical music at all!
- His operas really are what people imagine operas to be (see the opera page)—lots of emotion, lots of women singing very loud and high, and lots of main characters dying at the end!
- Falstaff is different from his other well-known operas—it’s a comedy!
- He liked Shakespeare (the very famous English playwright). The operas Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff are all based on Shakespeare plays.
- He is a national hero in Italy! This is partly due to his Va, Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) which became a song to help bring Italy together at the time it was written.
- His funeral was attended by more people than any event in the history of Italy!
- Verdi is buried with his second wife in a house he founded for retired musicians.
Here is a video of part of the Grand March from Verdi’s opera Aida. This opera is set in ancient Egypt. You can’t see the orchestra, but it will be underneath and in front of the stage.
Part of the ‘Grand March’ from Verdi’s opera ‘Aida’
And here is a video of Va, Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Verdi’s opera Nabucco. You can see how popular this piece is by the fact that it is being played outside to lots of people. Many of these people probably wouldn’t go to an opera in a theatre.
Va, Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Verdi’s opera Nabucco
- Giuseppe Verdi. This is a painting by Giovanni Boldini from 1886. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
- Verdi’s grave in Milan. This photograph was taken by Marcello Alfano. I have asked for permission to use the image here. Click here for the source of this image.
- Giuseppe Verdi: Aida (Opus Arte). www.opusarte.com / Daniela Dessì, Elisabetta Fiorillo, Fabio Armiliato, Juan Pons and Roberto Scandiuzzi lead the cast in the renowned period production filmed in 2003 against the historic paper trompe-l’oeil sets painted between 1936-45 by Josep Mestres Cabanes. More info at: www.opusarte.com.
- Verdi – Nabucco – Chorus of Hebrew Slaves. Berliner Phil & Rundfunkchor Berlin – Claudio Abbado.