Here are the names of seven composers of Italian opera who were contemporaries of Giuseppe Verdi:
Filippo Marchetti, Errico Petrella, Pietro Antonio Coppola, Luigi Ricci, Federico Ricci, Antonio Cagnoni, and Giovani Pacini. Ever heard of them? Neither had I.
But among them, those seven composers wrote 172 operas. So why is it that Verdi’s operas have lasted, and those other 172 haven’t? Why do we still know Rigoletto, Traviata, Trovatore? Surely Verdi didn’t have a monopoly on talent. The musicologist Donald Jay Grout’s answer is that Verdi surpassed his contemporaries by combining rare melodic and harmonic gifts with what Grout calls “dynamic individuality” and a “ferocious energy of expression.” For Verdi, in other words, musical genius and personal passion were perfectly matched. And the results were unmatched.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.