In January 1861 Verdi – who hadn’t worked on a new opera for 2 years (his last opera, “Un ballo in maschera” is from 1859) – was still debating whether or not accepting to be a candidate to the first Italian parliament. In the same period he received an offer from the St. Petersburg theater to compose a new opera for the following season.
He debated on the subject for some time but eventually opted for the Spanish drama Don Alvaro, o La fuerza del sino by Angel de Saavedra y Ramirez. As Verdi himself wrote to his French editor, La forza del destino is a “big and powerful drama, and I’m really in love with it“. He started writing in September and was done with it by December.
The Sinfonia is makes use of the main themes from the opera: we hear the first one after the 3 chords have been reiterated