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The Domestic Life of Giuseppe Verdi

By Arthur Elson

Giuseppe Verdi was another great musician who felt the full richness of domestic happiness, if only for a time.

Born in the little hamlet of Le Roncole in 1813, he proved himself possessed of unusual talent, and after a time went to Busseto for lessons. There he came to the notice of M. Barezzi, who became the friend and patron of the young student. The story of his being refused at the Milan Conservatory, and afterward amazing the authorities by his speed in composing fugues, is too well known to need repetition. After his Milan studies, we find him back at Busseto, in love with Barezzi's daughter Margherita. The father, unlike the usual stern parent who repels impecunious musicians, gave his permission for their union, which took place soon after, in 1836.

In a couple of years he settled down in Milan, with his wife and two children. Success began to crown his efforts, and his career of opera composer was well begun, when his domestic happiness came to a complete end.

First one child fell sick and died of an unknown malady, then the second followed it in a few days, and within two months the bereaved mother was stricken with a fatal inflammation of the brain. In the midst of all these misfortunes, Verdi was kept at work by a commission for "Un Giorno di Regno," which was to be a comic opera! Little wonder that the wit oozed out of the occasion, and the performance proved a failure. The despondent Verdi resolved to give up his career altogether, and only by the insistence of the manager, Merelli, was he finally persuaded to resume his occupation. In later life he married again, passing a placid existence on his extensive estates.