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Verdi: Genius and Passion

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

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.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.