Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
When Verdi was seven, he was sent to the local parish priest to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. He was a shy boy quick to take offence and subject to anger. But music made him forget everything. Once as an altar boy he was enraptured by the organ music he failed to hear the priest’s repeated calls for water and the wine. At last the priest enraged by the boy’s lack of attention gave a sharp kick on his behind sending down the altar steps.
“God blast you!” shouted the boy as he left the church still smarting from his embarrassment. Some years later in 1828, the church was struck by lightening. Two priests were killed, one of them was the one who had booted Guiseppe down the altar steps.
In his youth operatic impresario Guilio Gatti-Casazza worshipped the musical genius of Verdi. Once he followed the great composer through the streets, not daring to speak to him. Many years later he told Verdi about this.
“What a waste of energy!” exclaimed the master, “at that age with a good pair of legs under you, you should have been following a pretty girl.”