Happy 200th, Giuseppe Verdi

Pastel drawing of Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886
Pastel drawing of Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886

October 10, 2013 marked the 200th birthday of Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrated the occasion with a performance of Verdi's Requiem at Orchestra Hall, conducted by Music Director Riccardo Muti (who is a Verdi specialist) with soloists Tatiana Serjan, soprano; Daniela Barcellona, mezzo-soprano; Mario Zeffiri, tenor; and Ildar Abdrazakov, bass.

Missed the concert? You are in luck, as the webcast and CSO program notes are available.

You can compare the CSO's recent performance of the Requiem to other recordings from our CD collection, including performances by Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Andrea Boccelli and Leontyne Price.

Available for check out is a 1987 recording of the Messa da Requiem at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, with soloists Cheryl Studer, soprano; Dolora Zajic, mezzo soprano; Luciano Pavarotti, tenor; and Samuel Ramey, bass. Again, Riccardo Muti conducts. The Requiem premiered in 1874 at the cathedral of Saint Mark in Milan, but the second performance (and the first in a secular setting) happened at the Teatro alla Scala.

Want some background on the composer? One of the many biographies you can check out is Verdi with a Vengeance, which includes a long passage on the Requiem.

Feeling inspired? Want to try your hand at creating your own interpretation of the piece? You can choose between piano vocal and full orchestra editions of the score, and practice in one of the piano practice rooms at Harold Washington Library Center. Happy listening!