Giuseppe Verdi, born in 1813, was an Italian composer of opera. His work is well known throughout the world and a number of his operas including La Traviata (1853) and Aida (1871) are still widely performed by opera companies. Giuseppe Verdi had a varied and interesting life, ultimately enjoying immense fame for his work although his beginnings were difficult.
Giuseppe Verdi was born in Roncole, Italy, to impoverished parents. From an early age it was apparent that he had an interest in music. Verdi learned how to play on the church organ, and at age 12 relocated to the nearby town of Busseto to study music with Antonio Provesi. After completing four years of study there, Giuseppe Verdi had years of experience at the organ to his credit, along with several original compositions.
In 1832, Giuseppe Verdi relocated to Milan and applied to study at the prestigious conservatory of music. He was not accepted, although one of his examiners recommended a maestro with whom he could study. For the next three years, Giuseppe Verdi studied with Vincenzo Lavigna, a composer who had also performed at the famous La Scala opera house.
In 1835, he returned to Busseto where he was appointed town music master. He also married Margherita Barezzi, with whom he had two children. A string of illnesses resulted in the death of his wife and children by 1840. A member of La Scala witnessed Verdi's despair, and encouraged him to work on a new opera. This opera was to be the turning point of Giuseppe Verdi's career, and although Nabuco is not frequently performed today, the opera had a profound effect on the Italy of Verdi's day.
Giuseppe Verdi only grew in popularity after that, composing over thirty operas running the gamut from Rigoletto (1851), to several Shakespeare operas including Macbeth (1847) and Otello (1887). His operas were performed at many famous venues including La Scala and the Venice Opera House by some of the most famous operatic talents of the time. Like other compositions of the period, Verdi's operas frequently referenced ongoing political events, something which sometimes got him into trouble with censors and critics.
His compositions are marked by distinctive and sometimes difficult arias, unique musical arrangements, and compelling music which stirs the soul of the listener. His operas are among the most widely performed around the world, and his contribution to music is well remembered. At his funeral in 1901, 28,000 people stood in the streets to pay tribute.