Verdi at 200

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great composer Guiseppe Verdi. Possibly.

While the exact date of Verdi’s birth is not known (it was either the 9th or the 10th of October 1813), we do know that his operas will be staged for as long as operas are performed.

Along with Wagner, Verdi is considered the most influential operatic composer of the 19th century. His most famous operas include `Rigoletto’ (1851), `Il Trovatore’, `La Traviata’ (both 1853) and `Aida’ (1871). Verdi’s music is known for advancing dramatic action and is often associated with specific characters, for example, `Otello’ (1887) and `Falstaff’.

But Verdi almost never wrote any of these. Following the early death of his wife and children Verdi sank into despair and vowed never to compose again. Persuaded by Bartolomeo Merelli, the manager of La Scala Opera House in Milan, Verdi wrote `Nabucco’ and its opening performance at La Scala in March 1842 made him famous.

On Verdi’s death in 1901 thousands accompanied a procession through Milan transferring his remains to their final resting place sent off by a rendition of `Va pensiero’, the chorus of the Hebrew slaves from `Nabucco’. Quite an operatic exit!

You can explore Verdi further with DVDs, books, and scores from the Central Music Library. Here’s a selection of what’s available.

You can also go online 24/7 with your library card and find out more about Verdi from Oxford Music Online.

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