Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/270

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254

��VERDI.

��"Wagner's aim, and the 'Niebelungen Ring,' or still better 'Tristan and Isolde,' are the actuation of this theory, or at least are works showing which is the way towards the aim. Unhappily the grand scheme has not been carried out by the great artist, nor is it probable that it will ever be so ; because if a man has the power to conceive the type of ideal beauty, it is very doubtful whether he will find the practical means for expressing it ; and as the opera or musical drama is at present, we must reckon it to be the most impressive and most entertaining branch of art, but the least ideal, and the farthest from the ideal type of perfection. Let musical critics and philosophers say what they will, audiences in every quarter of the world will unanimously declare that the best opera is the one that amuses them best, and requires the least intellectual exertion to be understood. Taking this as the standard it is undeniable that Verdi's operas answer perfectly to the requirement.

To deliver a lecture on Astronomy before a select number of scientific men is quite a different thing from holding a course of lectures on As- tronomy for the entertainment and instruction of large and popular audiences : if one means to give something to another, one must give what that other is able to receive, and give it in the fittest way. And this is what Verdi did during all his musical career ; and his manner of thinking, feeling and living made it quite natural to him. Verdi felt much more than he learnt, that rhythm, the human voice and brevity, were the three elements apt to stir, to please and not to engender fatigue in his audiences, and on them he built his masterpieces. In the choice of his libretto he always preferred plots in which the majority of the public could take an interest. "VVotan protecting Hunding against Siegmund's sword, with the spear on which the laws of the universe are cut in eternal runes, is certainly one of the highest dramatic situations that can be brought on the stage ; but unhappily it is not a thing whose real meaning can be caught by everybody ; while in the poems of * Traviata,' ' Rigoletto,' ' Trovatore,' etc., even the most un- learned men will have no trouble in bringing Lome to themselves the feelings of the dramatis personse.

Three different styles have been distinguished in Verdi's operas the first from ' Oberto Conte di S. Bonifacio' to 'Luisa Miller'; the second from ' Luisa Miller ' to ' Don Carlos ' ; while the third comprises only 'Don Carlos' and 'Aida.' [See too the able remarks in vol. iii. p. 301 of this Dictionary.] We fail to recognise these three different styles. No doubt there is a great differ- ence between 'Attila,' 'Ernani,' 'Rigoletto,' and 'Aida' : but we submit that the difference is to be attributed to the age and development of the composer's mind, and not to a radical change in his way of rendering the subject musically, or to a different conception of the musical drama. The more refined expression of 'Aida' compared to ' II Trovatore,' and of ' II Trovatore ' compared to ' Nabucco ' or ' I Lombardi,' answers to the

��VERDI.

refinement of musical feeling which audiences gradually underwent during the forty years of the artistic career of the great composer ; he spoke a higher language, because that higher language had become intelligible to the public ; but what he said the first day is what he always said, and what he will say again, if he should ever break his long silence. Amongst living composers Verdi is undoubtedly the most universally popular : what posterity will think of this judgment passed by Verdi's contemporaries we do not know, but certainly he will always rank among the greatest composers of operatic music of all ages and amongst all nations, because seldom, if ever, is to be found such truth and power of feeling ex- pressed in a clearer or simpler way.

We subjoin a complete catalogue of Signer Verdi's works.

OPERAS.

��Oberto Conte dt S. Bonifacio, Nov.

�Stifellio, Nov. 16, 1850. Trieste.

�17.1839. Milan.

�Rigoletto, Mar. 11, 1851. Venice.

�Un giorno di Begno. > Sep. 5, 1840.

�11 Trovatore. Jan. 19, 1853. Rome.

�Milan.

�La Traviata, Mar. 6, 1853. Venice.

�Nabucodonosor. March 9, 1842.

�Les Vgpres Siciliennes, June 13,

�Milan.

�1855. Paris.

�I Lombardi, Feb. 11, 1843. Milan.

�Simon Boccanegra, Mar. 12, 1857.

�Ernanl, Mar. 9. 1844. Venice.

�Venice.

�I due Foscari, Nov. 3. 1844. Rome.

�Aroldo.s Aug. 16, 1857. Rimini.

�Giovanna d' Arco, Feb. 15, 1845.

�Un ballo in Maschera, Feb. 17.

�Milan.

�1857. Rome.

�Alzira. Aug. 12, 1845. Naples.

�La forza del Destino.< Nov. 10.

�Attila, Mar. 17, 1846. Venice.

�1862. St. Petersburg.

�Macbeth, Mar. 12. 1847. Florence.

�Macbeth (revised;, Apr. 21, 1SC5.

�I Masnadieri, July 22,1847. London.

�Paris.

�Jerusalem,2 Nov. 25, 1847. Paris.

�Don Carlos, Mar. 11, 1867. Paris.

�11 Oorsaro. Oct. 25. 1848. Trieste.

�Aida.s Dec. 24. 1871. Cairo.

�La battaglia di Legnano, Jan. 27,

�3. Boccanegra (revised) Apr. 1881.

�1849. Rome.

�Milan.

�Luisa Miller, Dec. 8, 1849. Naples.

� �DRAWING-ROOM MUSIC.

�Sei Romanze. Non t 'accost a re all*

�Guarda che blanca luna, with

�urna. More Blisa, lo stanco

�flauto obbligato.

�poeta. In solitaria stanza.

�Album di sei Romanze. 11 Tra-

�Nell* error di notte oscura.

�monto. La Zingara. Ad una

�Perduta ho la pace. Deh pie-

�Stella. Lo spazza camino. 11

�tosa.

�mistero. Brindlsl.

�L' esule. a song for bass.

�11 Foveretto. Romanza.

�La Seduzione, a song lor bass.

�Tu dici che non in'ami. Stor-

�Notturno a tre voci. S. T. B.

�nello.

��INNO DELLE NAZIONI.

Composed on the occasion of the London Kxhibitiou, aud per* formed at Her Majesty's Theatre on May 24, 1862.

QUARTETTO.

For two violins, viola and violoncello ; written at Naples, and per- formed in the author's oven drawing-room on April 1, 1873.

SACRED MUSIC.

Messa da Requiem. Performed Ave Maria, soprano and strings. In S. Mark's church in Milan, May 22, 1874.

Pater Noster, for 2 soprani, con- tralto, tenor, and bass.

��Both performed for the first time at La Scala of Milan, on April 18, 1880.

��Verdi wrote a great many compositions be- tween the ages of thirteen and eighteen, that is, before coming to Milan. Amongst them are Marches for brass band, short Symphonies, six Concertos and Variations for pianoforte, which he used to play himself: many Serenate, Cantate, Arie, and a great many Duetti, Terzetti, and Church compositions; amongst them a 'Stabat Mater.' During the three years he remained

1 This opera was performed in tome theatres under the title of ' II flnto Stanislao.'

2 This opera is a re-arrangement of ' I Lombardi.'

> This is an adaptation of the music of ' Stitellio ' to a new poem.

Reproduced, with alterations and additions, at La Scala of Milan Feb. 20, 1869.

s The first performance in Europe was on Feb. 8, 1872, at La Scala of Milan.

�� �