Giuseppe Verdi could only compose in the country
"Somehow there everything comes at once, quite without effort, and I am more contented."
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
Verdi spent at least half the year in the country, on his villa at Sant’Agata, in northern Italy. He found that he couldn’t compose anywhere else. He once told an interviewer, “I do all my writing in the country; somehow there everything comes at once, quite without effort, and I am more contented.”
At the villa, he woke at dawn and walked about his estate, checking on the fields and farms, and lavishing particular care on his stud farm, of which he was justly proud—his horses were considered the best in the region. Some mornings he also took a small sailboat out on the lake. Otherwise Verdi spent the day working alternately at the piano—which he kept in his bedroom, alongside a large writing desk—and in the garden, periodically calling for his servant to bring him a fresh cup of black coffee. In the evening there were often visitors, with whom he would play a game of cards or billiards before excusing himself from the party for an early bedtime.
A visitor once expressed amazement that Verdi could successfully practice such disparate activities as agriculture and musical composition. “Precisely because the one gives me strength for the other,” the Maestro replied. “If I leave my study mentally exhausted, I am refreshed by the intimate communion with nature, which agriculture affords, and which restores to my imagination and mind the vigour that is necessary for artistic creation.”
Source: Marcello Conati, ed., Encounters with Verdi, trans. Richard Stokes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi by Giovanni Boldini, 1886 (detail)
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FIGURING OUT YOUR “THING”
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