Antonio Vivaldi


Born: Mar 4, 1678; Italy   Died: Jul 28, 1741; Austria   Period: Baroque
The creator of hundreds of spirited, extroverted instrumental works, Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi is widely recognized as the master of the Baroque instrumental concerto, which he perfected and popularized more than any of his contemporaries. Vivaldi's kinetic rhythms, fluid melodies, bright instrumental effects, and extensions of instrumental technique make his some of the most enjoyable of Baroque music. He was highly influential among his Read more contemporaries and successors: even as esteemed a figure as Johann Sebastian Bach adapted some of Vivaldi's music. Vivaldi's variable textures and dramatic effects initiated the shift toward what became the Classical style; a deeper understanding of his music begins with the realization that, compared with Bach and even Handel, he was Baroque music's arch progressive. Though not as familiar as his concerti, Vivaldi's stage and choral music is still of value; his sometimes bouncy, sometimes lyrical Gloria in D major (1708) has remained a perennial favorite. His operas were widely performed in his own time.
Details regarding Vivaldi's early life are few. His father was a violinist in the Catherdral of Venice's orchestra and probably Antonio's first teacher. There is much speculation about other teachers, such as Corelli, but no evidence to support this. Vivaldi studied for the priesthood as a young man and was ordained in 1703. He was known for much of his career as "il prete rosso" (the red-haired priest), but soon after his ordination he declined to take on his ecclesiastical duties. Later in life he cited ill health as the reason, but other motivations have been proposed; perhaps Vivaldi simply wanted to explore new opportunties as a composer. It didn't take him long. Landing a job as a violin teacher at a girls' orphanage in Venice (where he would work in one capacity or another during several stretches of his life), he published a set of trio sonatas and another of violin sonatas. Word of his abilities spread around Europe, and in 1711 an Amsterdam publisher brought out, under the title L'estro armonico (Harmonic Inspiration), a set of Vivaldi's concertos for one or more violins with orchestra. These were best sellers (it was this group of concertos that spurred Bach's transcriptions), and Vivaldi followed them up with several more equally successful concerto sets. Perhaps the most prolific of all the great European composers, he once boasted that he could compose a concerto faster than a copyist could ready the individual parts for the players in the orchestra. He began to compose operas, worked from 1718 to 1720 in the court of the German principality of Hessen-Darmstadt, and traveled in Austria and perhaps Bohemia. Throughout his career, he had his choice of commissions from nobility and the highest members of society, the ability to use the best performers, and enough business savvy to try to control the publication of his works, although due to his popularity, many were published without his consent. Later in life Vivaldi was plagued by rumors of a sexual liaison with one of his vocal students, and he was censured by ecclesiastical authorities. His Italian career on the rocks, he headed for Vienna. He died there and was buried as a pauper in 1741, although at the height of his career his publications had earned a comfortable living. Read less
Vivaldi: Complete Concertos & Sonatas, Opp. 1-12 / Guglielmo, L'Arte dell'Arco
Release Date: 03/25/2016   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 95200   Number of Discs: 20
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Largo - Famous Largos By Vivaldi, Handel, Corelli, Etc
Release Date: 05/01/1995   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550950   Number of Discs: 1
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Vivaldi: Orlando Finto Pazzo / De Marchi, Abete, Et Al
Release Date: 08/17/2004   Label: Naive  
Catalog: 30392   Number of Discs: 3
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Vivaldi: Tito Manlio / Accademia Bizantina, Dantone
Release Date: 01/17/2006   Label: Naive  
Catalog: 30413   Number of Discs: 3
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Vivaldi: Ottone In Villa / Antonini, Prina, Invernizzi, Lehtipuu, Cangemi
Release Date: 01/25/2011   Label: Naive  
Catalog: 30493   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: The Four Seasons: Summer

I. Allegro non molto
II. Adagio
III. Tempo impetuoso d'Estate
About This Work
The four violin concertos in The Four Seasons were each inspired by an Italian sonnet, possibly written by Vivaldi himself. In each of the concertos the composer attempts to depict the pastoral scenes and events described in the sonnet.
Read more /> In this Concerto in G minor, subtitled "Summer," he attempts to capture the bright scenery and mood of that warmest of seasons, but the music is more a mixture of good and bad than one might normally think: the sonnet opens: "Under the merciless summer sun...." Thus the first movement, despite its lively Allegro non molto marking, begins as if an oppressive pall hovers above, the music listlessly struggling forward. But soon the pacing turns lively and the mood brightens to depict singing birds and cool breezes. But after a brief tranquil section, the music suddenly becomes violent and frenzied, with the onset of a clash among neighbors. Calm returns soon, but the movement ends breathlessly, as a storm threatens to wreak troubles for the shepherd.

The ensuing Adagio -- Presto movement alternates between the lethargic but beautiful playing of the solo violin theme and the stormy interjections of the string orchestra. The text describes the tired shepherd and his fears of thunder and lightning. The storminess continues at the outset of the Presto finale, as the storm finally does begin to rage. The mood throughout this closing panel, whether in the writing for the orchestra or for the soloist, brims with tension, at times even frenzy, as this storm fells stalks of corn and ravages the countryside. This brief movement provides a brilliant finish to this colorful Concerto. Read less

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