The Rest Home for Musicians – Giuseppe Verdi Foundation was instituted in 1899 to house retired musicians.
The architect in charge of its construction was Camillo Boito, the brother of Arrigo Boito, author of Otello, Falstaff and Mefistofele’s librettos.
Unique in the world, it is considered the final masterpiece of the Master from Busseto, who dedicated the last two years of his life to this project, before his death in 1901. At Verdi’s explicit request, the Home was opened after his death, because he did not wish to be thanked by those who would benefit from his generosity. In his will, Verdi bequeathed capital and author’s royalties towards the upkeep of the institution. Nevertheless, the Rest Home carries out its institutional activities thanks above all to the generosity of numerous benefactors and to considerable holdings in real estate and of other types.
In accordance with its statute, the Home is open to “less fortunate musicians, those who were dedicated to the Art of Music as a profession”, and, so far, more than a thousand people have lived there: singers, conductors, chorus members, orchestra players, teachers, and dancers.
In 1998, with the intention of mixing musicians of different generations, the Foundation proceeded to change its aims: in addition to hosting older musicians (which, in any case, remains the Society’s primary objective), the Home has been hosting young, deserving, needy music students who are enrolled at music schools recognized in Milan.
What is immediately striking, when you enter Casa Verdi, is not the way life there is organized, but rather the sound. Music reaches you from near and far – the sounds of pianos, violins, sometimes an organ; often you hear a young voice going over or practicing an opera aria. And you may even hear voices that are no longer young singing one aria or another.
You see instruments as you walk around: grand and baby grand pianos, or the great organ in the concert hall. There are, in fact, instruments that allow the musicians to continue their active relationship to music. Concerts and cultural events are frequently organized.
Casa Verdi’s crypt hosts the graves of Giuseppe Verdi and his wife Giuseppina Strepponi.
Photo © Diego Rinaldi