Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Paris

We are all Parisians

It has been said that “Italy gave us the Renaissance and France just about everything else”. It’s a statement that the opera composer Giuseppe Verdi – arch Italian nationalist that he was – would have agreed with entirely. Over the course of his career Verdi lived in Paris for a number of years and profited mightily from the Parisian operatic establishment. And while this straight-shooting, matter-of-fact Italian from the Po Valley was often at odds with his French hosts (“I have lived long enough in France to understand how the French make themselves insufferable by their insolence”), he also understood that Italy and France needed to stand side-by-side in the face of German aggression (“But whoever considers himself to be truly Italian must be above such [Gallic] pinpricks”). Verdi watched the progress of the war between France and Prussia – the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 – with undisguised horror. In a letter written to his friend, the Countess Clarina Maffei on September 30, 1870, immediately after the French defeat at Sedan, Verdi said that it was hard to adequately describe: “The desolation in my heart over France. France has given liberty and civilization to the modern world. Let us not […]

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