Giuseppe Verdi

I was in a cab this morning, and the driver was good enough to be playing something edifying on the radio instead of the usual nonsense. He had on the classical station, and the announcer mentioned that it was the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great composer, Giuseppe Verdi.

Verdi is best known for his works of opera, and much of his music has become part of the popular culture. One need only think of the ballad “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto, which, even if we don’t know what the words mean, is certainly a tune recognizable to all:

(The first two lines mean, “The woman is flighty, like a feather in the wind…”!)

Verdi’s talent was certainly not limited to opera. He composed a requiem (funeral Mass setting) in memory of the great Italian writer Alexander Manzoni, whom he greatly admired. Manzoni was author of the novel The Betrothed, a literary masterpiece (and, incidentally, on my wish list). Here’s the famous and explosive Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem:

Then there is also his famous string quartet. I was surprised to find this video of a performance in – of all places – Huntsville, Alabama!

Verdi still enjoys great popularity in his native Italy (and abroad), and many Italians could recite several of his pieces from memory, if not sing along. I was rather surprised to find out that he was an atheist – a position that would have been a bit more unusual then than now. His incredible talent was a gift from God, and it is a tragedy that he (apparently) did not recognize that.

On this, the 200th anniversary of his birth, we give thanks to God for the gift of Verdi’s life and Verdi’s music, while at the same time praying that God will have mercy on him and grant him eternal rest. I wonder how many people have ever prayed for his soul? Probably not too many – popular figures like that tend to be celebrated more than thought of as needing redemption. But we can be among the number of those who have not only celebrated him, but more importantly, prayed for him.

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6 Responses to Giuseppe Verdi

  1. Kathy says:

    I have always loved all kinds of music, but had no real knowledge of classical beyond the popular. Upon doing quite a bit of research on the brain since my youngest suffered a slight brain injury at birth and learning how powerful this music is for the brain and how damaging some other types can be, as a family we’ve switched completely over with regards to what is played in our home. I LOVE learning about composers and I truly appreciate your sharing these pieces – thank you!

  2. Bob Boffa says:

    AHHH them Italians !…

  3. Charlotte says:

    Thank you! Please do more posts like this (in your spare time, you know). My girls are doing a composer study this year for history and with their piano teacher helping. I’m going to share this with them today and then bring it out again when they get to Verdi.

  4. Lourdes says:

    Thank you for enlightening my knowledge on Verdi. Besides Vivaldi – may favorite, I do enjoy Verdi from time to time. Will be praying for his soul.

  5. hashtagcatholic says:

    Good ole Joe Green. 😉

    (You really don’t have to “approve” this comment.)

  6. Flannery says:

    Opera Birmingham is putting on Rigoletto this season and I can’t wait to see it! Happy birthday Giuseppe…

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