cover image Verdi


Charles Osborne. Alfred A. Knopf, $22.95 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54110-5

Author of The Complete Operas of Verdi, Osborne here assesses Verdi's career as a practical man of the theater. Not comparable to Julian Budden's massive three-volume study or to Warren Weaver's collection of documents, it is nevertheless a lively, more accessible account of the personality and achievements of a dynamic, imperious, fanatically honest cultural hero who, through determination and genius, developed from unsophisticated, crude beginnings into the greatest Italian composer of the 19th century. Son of an illiterate tavern keeper, Verdi in time associated with many of the leading social and political figures of his day, yet remained true to his humble origins. Based largely on letters from and to Verdi, Osborne's biography will take its place as the standard work. Photos. Performing Arts Book Club selection. (January 11)