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Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Messa da Requiem
Composed 1874

Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813 in Le Roncole, Italy, where he showed an early passion for music. His parents bought him a spinet at age four and he was filling in for the village church organist by age eight. Verdi continued his education and married, but sadly his two young daughters and first wife passed away. He emerged from this dark period composing operas that are still widely performed today including Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata and Aïda.

So how did a man who was considered an opera composer and agnostic end up writing a Catholic funeral mass?

The Requiem you will hear tonight was initially part of a project by 13 composers to honor the memory of Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini after he died in 1868. Verdi penned the Libera me but the project was abandoned when conflicting opinions and egos clashed. A few years later, when the Italian writer Allesandro Manzoni died in 1873, Verdi was deeply affected by the loss and decided to write a complete requiem for the man he greatly admired.

From the sorrowful first notes of the Kyrie to the epic and thunderous Dies Irae to the swell of voices across the stage, Requiem has inspired and moved audiences since its premiere in 1874 at the San Marco church in Milan. An immediate success, performances followed across Italy, Paris and Vienna. While some critics said the work was too operatic, famed composer Johannes Brahms greatly praised the Requiem, stating “…only a genius could write such a work.”

2024-2025 Season

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