Hymns • Inni

Critical Edition by

The University of Chicago Press and Casa Ricordi, Milan, 2007

This volume comprises the only two mature secular hymns Verdi is known to have composed: Inno popolare [Hymn of the People], also called “Suona la tromba” [The trumpet sounds] from its first line, for unaccompanied male chorus, and Cantica (Inno delle nazioni) [Hymn of the Nations] for tenor solo, chorus, and orchestra. Generally opposed to writing occasional pieces, Verdi undertook both commissions as a result of special requests that he felt he could not ignore. The Inno popolare of 1848, composed at the behest of the patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, whom Verdi idolized, was intended by the composer as a national battle hymn for Italy. His setting calls for a chorus of unaccompanied male voices. The Cantica or Inno delle nazioni was Verdi's intended contribution to the musical jubilee at London's International Exhibition of 1862, for which Verdi had been asked to represent the new nation of Italy. The composer deployed a large orchestra, chorus, and tenor soloist, and closed the work in a spectacular counterpoint featuring the national anthems of England ("God Save the Queen") and France (the "Marseillaise"), together with the song he rightly surmised would become Italy's anthem ("Fratelli d'Italia").

For further details about each of the hymns, follow the links:

Inno popolare ("Suona la tromba")

Cantica (Inno delle nazioni)











INNO POPOLARE ("Suona la tromba")

Poetry by

For unaccompanied male chorus (published with the piano accompaniment provided by the first edition, 1865).

Verdi composed the Inno popolare in 1848 at the behest of the Italian philosopher and patriot Giuseppe Mazzini. This was the time of the revolutionary movements all across Europe, and in Italy the Milanese had driven out the Austrian overlords in March. These events so excited Verdi that he hurried back to Italy from Paris, where he had been living. In May 1848 he met Mazzini in Milan and agreed to compose a “battle hymn” for the Italians on the order of the French “Marseillaise.” Mazzini then commissioned a fiery text from the poet Goffredo Mameli and in August sent it to Verdi, who had returned to Paris. Verdi completed “Suona la tromba” in October of that year, indicating in a letter to Mazzini that he “tried to be as popular and easy as possible” and closing: “May this Hymn amid the music of the cannon soon be sung in the Lombard plains!” Unfortunately, within less than a year Austrian rule was restored and Italian patriotic hymns were banned. Verdi’s, which turned out to be not as “easy” as he intended, was not published until 1865 and never became an Italian national anthem. That edition, and later ones, “arranged” Verdi’s music for the perceived public. The critical edition restores the piece to the composer’s original intentions.

Back to Available titles | Cantica (Inno delle Nazioni)















Poetry by

First performance
London - Her Majesty's Theatre
24 May 1862

Coro di Popolo (Chorus of People of all Nations), mixed chorus
Un Bardo (A Voice amongst Them), tenor

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Cimbasso, Timpani, Bass drum [and cymbals], Percussion, 2 Harps, Strings

After the Inno popolare, Verdi wrote no more patriotic pieces until after Italy’s successful war for independence in 1860. For a musical jubilee planned in London for the International Exhibition of 1862, he was invited to represent Italy, with three other well-known composers of the day writing new patriotic pieces for France (Auber), Prussia (Meyerbeer), and England (Sterndale Bennett). Verdi reluctantly agreed and submitted a cantata for tenor solo, chorus, and orchestra entitled Cantica, or Inno delle nazioni [Hymn of the Nations]. The tenor part was to be sung by Enrico Tamberlick, creator of the tenor lead in the opera La forza del destino, on which Verdi was working at the same time. The originally planned premiere on 1 May 1862 took place without Verdi’s cantata, however, on the grounds that it arrived too late. Verdi, miffed, wrote a letter to the Times, defending himself, with the result that his Hymn received a great amount of publicity. It was given a command performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 24 May, with Verdi in attendance. In the text, by the young Arrigo Boito (later the librettist of Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff), the solo “Bard” exalts the brotherhood of man and the chorus joins him in a prayer. In Verdi’s setting the work closes by weaving together the national songs of England (“God Save the Queen”), France (“La Marseillaise”) and Italy (another hymn by the poet Mameli, “Fratelli d’Italia,” set by Michele Novaro in 1849, which eventually did become the Italian national anthem). The Inno delle nazioni was not performed in Italy, however, until Toscanini conducted it for a World War I patriotic concert in 1915. He later performed it for a BBC broadcast during World War II.

The critical edition is based on Verdi’s autograph score, preserved at the British Library, as well as the composer’s musical sketches, which were newly rediscovered in the Verdi family villa in the same folder as his sketches for La forza del destino. Editor Marvin also uses the original performing parts from 1862, formerly found at the library of the BBC in London. They were microfilmed in the 1930s and a film copy sent to New York for performances there in the 1940s. The film, preserved at the New York Public Library, is now the only record of the parts, the originals of which were destroyed during World War II.

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