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Portrait of Guiseppe Verdi.
Paris, ca. 1860. Original photograph, carte de visite, albumen print, 9,6 x 6,1 cm. Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (Italian: [d?u'z?ppe 'verdi]; 9 or 10 October 1813 - 27 January 1901) was an Italian opera composer. Verdi was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him, becoming one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history. In his early operas, Verdi demonstrated a sympathy with the Risorgimento movement which sought the unification of Italy. He also participated briefly as an elected politician. The chorus "Va, pensiero" from his early opera Nabucco (1842), and similar choruses in later operas, were much in the spirit of the unification movement, and the composer himself became esteemed as a representative of these ideals. An intensely private person, Verdi however did not seek to ingratiate himself with popular movements and as he became professionally successful was able to reduce his operatic workload and sought to establish himself as a landowner in his native region. He surprised the musical world by returning, after his success with the opera Aida (1871), with three late masterpieces: his Requiem (1874), and the operas Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). His operas remain extremely popular, especially the three peaks of his 'middle period': Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, and the bicentenary of his birth in 2013 was widely celebrated in broadcasts and performances. Verdi, the first child of Carlo Giuseppe Verdi (1785-1867) and Luigia Uttini (1787-1851), was born at their home in Le Roncole, a village near Busseto, then in the Département Taro and within the borders of the First French Empire following the annexation of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza in 1808. The baptismal register, prepared on 11 October 1813, lists his parents Carlo and Luigia as "innkeeper" and "spinner" respectively. Additionally, it lists Verdi as being "born yesterday", but since days were often considered to begin at sunset, this could have meant either 9 or 10 October] Verdi himself, following his mother, always celebrated his birthday on 9 October. Verdi had a younger sister, Giuseppa, who died aged 17 in 1833.[2] From the age of four, Verdi was given private lessons in Latin and Italian by the village schoolmaster, Baistrocchi, and at six he attended the local school. After learning to play the organ, he showed so much interest in music that his parents finally provided him with a spinet. Verdi's gift for music was already apparent by 1820-21 when he began his association with the local church, serving in the choir, acting as an altar boy for a while, and taking organ lessons. After Baistrocchi's death, Verdi, at the age of eight, became the official paid organist. The music historian Roger Parker points out that both of Verdi's parents "belonged to families of small landowners and traders, certainly not the illiterate peasants from which Verdi later liked to present himself as having emerged... Carlo Verdi was energetic in furthering his son's education...something which Verdi tended to hide in later life... [T]he picture emerges of youthful precocity eagerly nurtured by an ambitious father and of a sustained, sophisticated and elaborate formal education." In 1823, when he was 10, Verdi's parents arranged for the boy to attend school in Busseto, enrolling him in a Ginnasio--an upper school for boys--run by Don Pietro Seletti, while they continued to run their inn at Le Roncole. Verdi returned to Busseto regularly to play the organ on Sundays, covering the distance of several kilometres on foot. At age 11, Verdi received schooling in Italian, Latin, the humanities, and rhetoric. By the time he was 12, he began lessons with Ferdinando Provesi, maestro di cappella at San Bartolomeo, director of the municipal music school and co-director of the local Società Filarmonica (Philharmonic Society). Verdi later stated: "From the ages of 13 to 18 I wrote a motley assortment of pieces: marches for band by the hundred, perhaps as many little sinfonie that were used in church, in the theatre and at concerts, five or six concertos and sets of variations for pianoforte, which I played myself at concerts, many serenades, cantatas (arias, duets, very many trios) and various pieces of church music, of which I remember only a Stabat Mater." This information comes from the Autobiographical Sketch which Verdi dictated to the publisher Giulio Ricordi late in life, in 1879, and remains the leading source for his early life and career. Written, understandably, with the benefit of hindsight, it is not always reliable when dealing with issues more contentious than those of his childhood. The other director of the Philharmonic Society was Antonio Barezzi (it), a wholesale grocer and distiller, who was described by a contemporary as a "manic dilettante" of music. The young Verdi did not immediately become involved with the Philharmonic. By June 1827, he had graduated with honours from the Ginnasio and was able to focus solely on music under Provesi. By chance, when he was 13, Verdi was asked to step in as a replacement to play in what became his first public event in his home town; he was an immediate success mostly playing his own music to the surprise of many and receiving strong local recognition. By 1829-30, Verdi had established himself as a leader of the Philharmonic: "none of us could rival him" reported the secretary of the organisation, Giuseppe Demaldè. An eight-movement cantata, I deliri di Saul, based on a drama by Vittorio Alfieri, was written by Verdi when he was 15 and performed in Bergamo. It was acclaimed by both Demaldè and Barezzi, who commented: "He shows a vivid imagination, a philosophical outlook, and sound judgment in the arrangement of instrumental parts." In late 1829, Verdi had completed his studies with Provesi, who declared that he had no more to teach him. At the time, Verdi had been giving singing and piano lessons to Barezzi's daughter Margherita; by 1831, they were unofficially engaged. Verdi set his sights on Milan, then the cultural capital of northern Italy, where he applied unsuccessfully to study at the Conservatory. Barezzi made arrangements for him to become a private pupil of Vincenzo Lavigna (it), who had been maestro concertatore at La Scala, and who described Verdi's compositions as "very promising." Lavigna encouraged Verdi to take out a subscription to La Scala, where he heard Maria Malibran in operas by Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini. Verdi began making connections in the Milanese world of music that were to stand him in good stead. These included an introduction by Lavigna to an amateur choral group, the Società Filarmonica, led by Pietro Massini. Attending the Società frequently in 1834, Verdi soon found himself functioning as rehearsal director (for Rossini's La cenerentola) and continuo player. It was Massini who encouraged him to write his first opera, originally titled Rocester, to a libretto by the journalist Antonio Piazza. (Wikipedia). KEYWORDS:photo/italy/france
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