VERDI (1813-1901)
Giuseppi Verdi was born in Roncole between Piacenza and Parma in Northern Italy. He started music lessons at a young age, and, when he was twenty, moved to Milan to further his studies including attending concerts and opera. The Milan Conservatory bears his name today (almost certainly because he was turned down there as a student.)
After his studies, he returned to his home town as town music master. There he fell in love with and married one of his students – tragically his two children died in infancy and his wife died soon after. Following this and the failure of his first opera, he came close to giving up composition altogether. Verdi was persuaded soon after to write his opera “Nabucco” based on the biblical Nebuchadnezzar, and its success was to make him famous. To this day, his operas fill opera houses all over the world e.g. Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Force of Destiny, Silician Vespres, Don Carlos, Otello, Boccanegra, Aida, Falstaff – the list of his master pieces goes on and on.
His funeral in Milan was a major event with countless thousands of people lining the streets, singing the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, and he was the first non-French person to receive the Légion d’Honneur.