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Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi
1813 - 1901
Italy
Picture
G.F.F. Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi (10/10/1813 - 27/01/1901), an Italian composer, born in Roncole, now Le Roncole Verdi. He dominated the world of Italian opera from his first considerable success in 1842 with Nabucco until his final Shakespearean operas Otello, staged at La Scala, Milan, in 1887, and Falstaff, mounted at the same opera-house in 1893. His career coincided with the rise of Italian nationalism and the unification of the country, causes with which he was openly associated.
The best known of Verdi's 28 operas are Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar), Macbeth, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Les Vêpres Siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers), Simon Boccanegra, Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny), Don Carlos, Aida, Otello and Falstaff.
Messa per Rossini - Libera me
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1869
Musical form:fragment
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:13'20''
In memory of:Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)
Label(s):Hänssler Classic 91.108
In 1868, four days after the death of Gioacchino Rossini, composer of The Barber of Seville, Moses, and William Tell (among much else), Verdi proposed a requiem mass for the illustrious deceased consisting of individual movements by Italy's "most eminent" composers. Of the dozen recruited (in addition to Verdi himself), contemporary audiences will recognize not one. At Verdi's suggestion, it consisted of contributions from the following composers: Antonio Buzzolla ('Requiem and Kyrie'); Antonio Bazzini ('Dies irae'); Carlo Pedrotti ('Tuba mirum'); Antonio Cagnoni ('Quid sum miser'); Federico Ricci ('Recordare'); Alessandro Nini ('Ingemisco'); Raimondo Boucheron ('Confutatis' and 'Oro Supplex'); Carlo Coccia ('Lacrymosa'); Gaetano Gaspari ('Domine Jesu'); Pietro Platania ('Sanctus'); Lauro Rossi ('Agnus Dei'); Teodulo Mabellini ('Lux aeterna') and Giuseppe Verdi himself ('Libera me'). Yet each did his part, and a two-hour homage to Rossini resulted. The composite requiem mass for Rossini was to have been performed in 1869 in Bologna to commemorate the anniversary of Rossini's death. For tangled reasons—this was Italy—the planned performances failed to materialize. Verdi was not the only contributor to recycle his part within a larger composition of his own, and his staggering 'Libera me' duly made its way into the requiem for Italy's great nationalist novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni. But the forgotten patchwork Messa per Rossini only saw the light in 1988, in Parma. On June 22, Helmuth Rilling, the conductor on that occasion, dusts it off as the opening concert of his Oregon Bach Festival, in Eugene, which by no means confines itself to Bach.
Author:Austin Baer
Picture
G. Rossini
(dedicatee)
Messa da requiem
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1874
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:ca.82'
In memory of:Alessandro Manzoni (1785 - 1873)
Label(s):Phillips 442 142-2
EMI 7243 5 68613 2 9
The history of Verdi's requiem began with one small step in the wrong direction. The year was 1873. the date 22 may. Alessandro Manzoni, the great italian poet and novelist, who met Verdi in 1868, and whom verdi greatly admired, visited the church of San-Fedele. While leaving he stumbled on the steps of the church and fell. He died instantly. He was 88 years old.
Less than a fortnight later Verdi announced to Giulio Ricordi, a close friend and a publisher, his intentions of writing a requiem in memory of the poet. Verdi himself was already 60 years old. He was, at the time, the most important opera composer of Italy, having already created almost all of his great operas, except for Otello and Falstaff. His announcement created a stir in musical circles, and raised many expectations for a masterpiece of religious-music.
Part of the requiem can be said to have already been composed. In november 1868 Rossini, the grand old man of Italian music, died. Verdi proposed that the anniversary of his death be commemorated by a Requiem Mass to which all the leading Italian composers of church music should contribute a movement. He himself would provide the concluding "Libera me." The Mass would be performed at the Church of San Petronio, Bologna, the city with which Rossini had been most closely associated.
The pieces were all composed and copied in good time, but the performance never took place. The local impressario refused to make his forces available for the occasion, since this would have meant curtailing the opera season.
In 1871, there was talk of reviving it for the inauguration of a bust of Rossini at La scala, Milan. This never took place either, for the composition as whole was deemed too old-fashioned by then. But Alberto Mazzucato, a member of the committee who checked the several pieces composed, and director of the Milan conservatory, felt moved to write to Verdi praising his contribution to the skies. Verdi replied that he was almost persuaded to complete the Requiem on his own. The 'Libera me' which he composed is quite the same as the one that exists in the requiem we have today, having included already the references in it to the 'Dies irae' and 'Requiem aeternam'. This 'Libera me' became, in fact, the acorn from which the oak of the present Requiem grew. The death of Alessandro Manzoni (1785 - 1873) prompted Verdi to proceed with his plans. On the 25 June Verdi left with his wife for Paris, where he began working on the Requiem. The work was completed by 10 April 1874 and the premiere took place at the church of San Marco, Milan, 22 May 1874.
It was accepted with enthusiasm and later on the Requiem conquered Europe: 15 performances in Paris between 1874-1875, 4 performances in Vienna, and 3 in London. In Verdi's own country the Requiem became so popular that it was played, at times, without the composer's consent, sometimes even by military bands or in settings to four pianos.. The composer, who wanted the best for his Requiem, and who,when visiting London consented to its being played only in the Albert-Hall, due to the concert-hall's excellent acoustics, did not of course approve of all this. But by now it was not only his composition. The requiem was embraced by a whole continent. The general opinion was in favor of the requiem. Many shared Brahms' opinion that -"only a genius could have written such a work". There were, however, those who were less enthusiastic.
Hans von Bulow, the great conductor, called it:"An opera in ecclesiastical robes", and Wagner, having heard the Requiem, is reported to have said, simply, - "it is better to say nothing..."
It is true that the requiem has something of the operatic in it. However, in good performances, the dramatic touch only strengthens the power of this composition.
The question of whether it is truly 'ecclesiastical' is more problematic. Verdi wasn't an orthodox catholic. One may say that he was an agnostic christian if not an unbeliever. Verdi's late compositions had sometimes a tendency to chromaticism and peculiar harmonic shifts. In the requiem these peculiarities usually bear a very defined meaning: That of doubt. Many peaceful rests in the score are touched by this doubt but the Requiem itself ends without a cloud's trace. This doubt that existed within Verdi's half-believing soul waited beside his music always, and in his last religious composition it took shape like a dark flower: The 'Te deum' for double four-voice choir and orchestra, sings the praise of God. The chorus ends it with a muttering of 'O Lord, in thee have I trusted. Let me never be confounded.' above these words hovers the dimmest light of strings, which are instantly swallowed by a somber chord from the entire orchestra.
Among Verdi's creations the Requiem is considered the most condensed, with no 'operatic' interruptions and delays. Musicologists think of it as one of his most complicated composition. It is certainly one of his most beautiful.
Picture
A. Manzoni
(dedicatee)