1813 - 1901
The singing melodies of his popular operas, like 'Rigoletto', 'La Traviata', 'Il Trovatore', 'Aida', have come to represent Italian opera to much of the world. The late operas 'Otello' and 'Falstaff' crowned his achievement.
Verdi was born to a poor family in a tiny Italian village. He began studying music and was educated in Milan. His first opera, Oberto was produced at La Scala (Milan's opera house) in 1839
Verdi was an ardent nationalist who yearned for a free and united Italy and his operas came to symbolize Italian independence.
In his late thirties, Verdi composed Rigoletto (1853), and La Traviata (1853). Although the public loved them, critics were often scandalized by their subject matter - they seemed to condone rape, suicide, and free love. But Verdi was fiercely independent and himself lived openly with his second wife for ten years before marrying her.
In his later years he wrote Aida (1871), Otello (1887), and - at the age of seventy-nine - his final opera, Falstaff (1893).