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by H. H. Langill

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AN OLD BIRCH TREE

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IUSEPPE VERDI, whose rare musical talent is unprecedented by any Italian composer of this century, was a man who may justly be called the antithesis of musicians moulded in the shape with which we are all so familiar. Lacking the necessary qualifications of a true Bohemian, he preferred the simple life of the common people. A child of the contadini, he became, by the sheer force of his genius, not only the composer of thirty operas, but an Italian Senator, “musical politician,” philanthropist and three times over a millionaire. Honored and respected by the civilized world, his countrymen ever looked to him as a deliverer from their national oppression and many times this modest, retiring man held within his grasp the power of a king. Placing the tumult of his soul into each note of pathos, Verdi may justly be credited with having drawn politics into his music. Rossini styled him, “the musician with a helmet,” and probably no composer has so well deserved this distinction. But aside from his musical ability, Verdi held and still holds that magic power and personal charm which death itself cannot efface. Strange as it may seem, no complete English biography has yet appeared to do homage to the memory of this octogenarian composer. His love of seclusion and unaffected horror of posing as an idol of the

people long barred the more intimate facts of his personal life from the public. Since his decease each successive year has but strengthened the ardor and admiration we have for this creator of Italian song. Realizing the force of such a personality, it is impossible for the average person to visit Verdi's native haunts, especially the city of Milan,—without feeling that his spirit has permeated every cobble-stone of the ancient Lombard town with that indescribable beauty of soul which one pursues, yet never overtakes. It is difficult to imagine Verdi, with his innate shrewdness and practicability as being the composer of operas; yet the creator of Il Trovatore has sounded an harmonious chord in the heart of all nations. Lovers of Italian opera will long remember Milan as once the musical centre of the world. Your Baedeker will tell you that the chief attractions are the Gothic Cathedral with its two thousand statues and Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, “The Last Supper.” But this intelligence appears quite forgotten by the musical enthusiast, as he walks the streets of the city, casting benign glances at each native, dark-haired Manrico, who softly hums in his sweet, rhythmical language, the familiar refrain of the Miserere. Giuseppe Verdi first came to Milan when nineteen years of age. He had

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