Courtyard of the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory of Music in Milan, View of the installation by Arnaldo Pomodoro <em> Lancia di luce </em>(<em>Spear of light</em>) | Photo: Alberto Panzani (Own Work) via Wikimedia Creative Commons / Wiki Loves Monuments
When Verdi was Rejected by the Conservatory of Milan
Location: Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi
Address: Via Conservatorio 12
The verdict of his admission exam was quite clear - the candidate was deemed “musically inept” because of his “improper” positioning of his hands on the piano and his “lack of understanding of the rules of counterpoint”. The Conservatory of Milan, 1832, and the would-be student in question is named Giuseppe Verdi. Just a coincidence? Not in the slightest - we’re talking about the author of Aida, professional organist from the tender age of 8, compulsive composer from the time he was 13, Master and member of the Philharmonic “without rival” only three years later. Thus, as an adult, Verdi moved to Milan from Busseto, in the Dukedom of Parma, with the goal of truly perfecting his craft. His attempt to enter was daring - the few available spots at the Conservatory were generally reserved to students no older than 14 and from the Lombardy-Veneto regions. But if the young Verdi got as far as being allowed to audition, what can explain the disastrous outcome? His exam may not have gone well but there had to be more to it. Besides the narrow-mindedness he was up against, there was also serious rancour between the famed violinist Alessandro Rolla, who was on the side of Verdi, and the President of the Admissions Board Francesco Basily - immediately against Verdi when he discovered Rolla’s opinion of the young artist. This harsh refusal didn’t harm the musician who, thanks to Rolla, began taking lessons from Vincenzo Lavigna, the Master of the harpsichord at La Scala. Vengeance was not far off - a year later, one of his operas was selected to be performed by the Conservatory itself - the Conservatory that would eventually take the name of a certain Giuseppe Verdi.