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Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi Italian pronunciation: anˈtɔːnjo ˈluːtʃo viˈvaldi (4 March 1678 – 28
July 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") because of his red hair, was
an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice.
Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his
lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing
instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and
over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The
Four Seasons.
Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the
Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been
employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success
with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor
Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon
after Vivaldi's arrival.
Though Vivaldi's music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in
popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi
ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers.
•
Childhood
The church where Vivaldi was baptised: San Giovanni Battista in Bragora, Sestiere di
Castello, Venice
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in 1678 in Venice,1
then the capital of the Republic of
Venice. He was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife,
which led to a belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though not known for
certain, the child's immediate baptism was most likely due either to his poor health or
to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake,
Vivaldi's mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood.2
Vivaldi's official church
baptism took place two months later.3
Vivaldi's parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in
the register of San Giovanni in Bragora.4
Vivaldi had five siblings: Margarita Gabriela,
Cecilia Maria, Bonaventura Tomaso, Zanetta Anna, and Francesco Gaetano.5
Giovanni Battista, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught
Antonio to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young
son. Antonio was probably taught at an early age, judging by the extensive musical
knowledge he had acquired by the age of 24, when he started working at the
Ospedale della Pietà.6
Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno
dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians.7
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, an early Baroque composer
and the maestro di cappella at St Mark's Basilica. It is possible that Legrenzi gave the
young Antonio his first lessons in composition. The Luxembourg scholar Walter
Kolneder has discerned the influence of Legrenzi's style in Vivaldi's early liturgical
work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31), written in 1691 at the age of thirteen. Vivaldi's father
may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata
was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi - the name under which Vivaldi's father
had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia.8
Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE
Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland
www.transitweb.ch
Vivaldi's health was problematic. His symptoms, strettezza di petto ("tightness of the
chest"), have been interpreted as a form of asthma.3
This did not prevent him from
learning to play the violin, composing or taking part in musical activities,3
although it
did stop him from playing wind instruments. In 1693, at the age of fifteen, he began
studying to become a priest.9
He was ordained in 1703, aged 25. He was soon
nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest", because of his red hair.10
"Rosso" is
Italian for "Red", and would have referred to the colour of his hair, a family trait. Not
long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a dispensation from celebrating Mass
because of his ill health. Vivaldi only said Mass as a priest a few times. He appears
to have withdrawn from priestly duties, but he remained a priest.
At the Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pietà
In September 1703, Vivaldi became maestro di violino (master of violin) at an
orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice.1
While Vivaldi is most famous as a composer, he was regarded as an exceptional
technical violinist as well. The German architect Johann Friedrich Armand von
Uffenbach referred to Vivaldi as "the famous composer and violinist" and said that
"Vivaldi played a solo accompaniment excellently, and at the conclusion he added a
free fantasy an improvised cadenza which absolutely astounded me, for it is hardly
possible that anyone has ever played, or ever will play, in such a fashion."11
Vivaldi was only 25 when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà. Over the
next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there.12
There
were four similar institutions in Venice; their purpose was to give shelter and
education to children who were abandoned or orphaned, or whose families could not
support them. They were financed by funds provided by the Republic.13
The boys
learned a trade and had to leave when they reached 15. The girls received a musical
education, and the most talented stayed and became members of the Ospedale's
renowned orchestra and choir.
Shortly after Vivaldi's appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and
esteem abroad, too. Vivaldi wrote concertos, cantatas and sacred vocal music for
them.14
These sacred works, which number over 60, are varied: they included solo
motets and large-scale choral works for soloists, double chorus, and orchestra.15
In
1704, the position of teacher of viola all'inglese was added to his duties as violin
instructor.16
The position of maestro di coro, which was at one time filled by Vivaldi,
required a lot of time and work. He had to compose an oratorio or concerto at every
feast and teach the orphans both music theory and how to play certain instruments.17
His relationship with the board of directors of the Ospedale was often strained. The
board had to take a vote every year on whether to keep a teacher. The vote on
Vivaldi was seldom unanimous, and went 7 to 6 against him in 1709.18
After a year as
a freelance musician, he was recalled by the Ospedale with a unanimous vote in
1711; clearly during his year's absence the board realized the importance of his
role.18
He became responsible for all of the musical activity of the institution19
when
he was promoted to maestro di' concerti (music director) in 1716.20
In 1705, the first collection (Connor Cassara) of his works was published by
Giuseppe Sala:21
his Opus 1 is a collection of 12 sonatas for two violins and basso
continuo, in a conventional style.16
In 1709, a second collection of 12 sonatas for
violin and basso continuo appeared, his Opus 2.22
A real breakthrough as a
composer came with his first collection of 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins
with strings, L'estro armonico Opus 3, which was published in Amsterdam in 1711 by
Estienne Roger,23
dedicated to Grand Prince Ferdinand of Tuscany. The prince
sponsored many musicians including Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric
Handel. He was a musician himself, and Vivaldi probably met him in Venice.24
L'estro
armonico was a resounding success all over Europe. It was followed in 1714 by La
stravaganza Opus 4, a collection of concerti for solo violin and strings,25
dedicated to
an old violin student of Vivaldi's, the Venetian noble Vettor Dolfin.26
Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE
Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland
www.transitweb.ch
In February 1711, Vivaldi and his father traveled to Brescia, where his setting of the
Stabat Mater (RV 621) was played as part of a religious festival. The work seems to
have been written in haste: the string parts are simple, the music of the first three
movements is repeated in the next three, and not all the text is set. Nevertheless,
perhaps in part because of the forced essentiality of the music, the work is one of his
early masterpieces.
Despite his frequent travels from 1718, the Pietà paid him 2 sequins to write two
concerti a month for the orchestra and to rehearse with them at least five times when
in Venice. The Pietà's records show that he was paid for 140 concerti between 1723
and 1733.
Opera impresario
First ion of Juditha triumphans27
In early 18th century Venice, opera was the most popular musical entertainment. It
proved most profitable for Vivaldi. There were several theaters competing for the
public's attention. Vivaldi started his career as an opera composer as a sideline: his
first opera, Ottone in villa (RV 729) was performed not in Venice, but at the Garzerie
Theater in Vicenza in 1713.28
The following year, Vivaldi became the impresario of
the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice, where his opera Orlando finto pazzo (RV 727) was
performed. The work was not to the public's taste, and it closed after a couple of
weeks, being replaced with a repeat of a different work already given the previous
year.24
In 1715, he presented Nerone fatto Cesare (RV 724, now lost), with music by seven
different composers, of which he was the leader. The opera contained eleven arias,
and was a success. In the late season, Vivaldi planned to put on an opera composed
entirely by him, Arsilda, regina di Ponto (RV 700), but the state censor blocked the
performance. The main character, Arsilda, falls in love with another woman, Lisea,
who is pretending to be a man.24
Vivaldi got the censor to accept the opera the
following year, and it was a resounding success.
At this period, the Pietà commissioned several liturgical works. The most important
were two oratorios. Moyses Deus Pharaonis, (RV 643) is lost. The second, Juditha
triumphans (RV 644), celebrates the victory of the Republic of Venice against the
Turks and the recapture of the island of Corfù. Composed in 1716, it is one of his
sacred masterpieces. All eleven singing parts were performed by girls of the Pietà,
both the female and male roles. Many of the arias include parts for solo instruments
—recorders, oboes, clarinetscitation needed
, violas d'amore, and mandolins—that
showcased the range of talents of the girls.29
Also in 1716, Vivaldi wrote and produced two more operas, L'incoronazione di Dario
(RV 719) and La costanza trionfante degli amori e degli odi (RV 706). The latter was
so popular that it performed two years later, re-ed and retitled Artabano re dei Parti
(RV 701, now lost). It was also performed in Prague in 1732. In the following years,
Vivaldi wrote several operas that were performed all over Italy.
His progressive operatic style caused him some trouble with more conservative
musicians, like Benedetto Marcello, a magistrate and amateur musician who wrote a
pamphlet denouncing him and his operas. The pamphlet, Il teatro alla moda, attacks
Vivaldi without mentioning him directly. The cover drawing shows a boat (the
Sant'Angelo), on the left end of which stands a little angel wearing a priest's hat and
playing the violin. The Marcello family claimed ownership of the Teatro Sant'Angelo,
and a long legal battle had been fought with the management for its restitution,
without success. The obscure writing under the picture mentions non-existent places
and names: ALDIVIVA is an anagram of A. Vivaldi.
In a letter written by Vivaldi to his patron Marchese Bentivoglio in 1737, he makes
reference to his "94 operas". Only around 50 operas by Vivaldi have been
discovered, and no other documentation of the remaining operas exists. Although
Vivaldi may have exaggerated, in his dual role of composer and impresario it is
plausible that he may either have written or been responsible for the production of as
many as 94 operas during a career which by then had spanned almost 25 years.30
While Vivaldi certainly composed many operas in his time, he never reached the
prominence of other great composers like Alessandro Scarlatti, Johann Adolph
Hasse, Leonardo Leo, and Baldassare Galuppi, as evidenced by his inability to keep
a production running for any extended period of time in any major opera house.31
His most successful operas were La constanza trionfante and Farnace which
garnered six revivals each.31
Mantua and The Four Seasons
Caricature by P. L. Ghezzi, Rome (1723)32
In 1717 or 1718, Vivaldi was offered a new prestigious position as Maestro di
Cappella of the court of prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua.33
He
moved there for three years and produced several operas, among which was Tito
Manlio (RV 738). In 1721, he was in Milan, where he presented the pastoral drama
La Silvia (RV 734, 9 arias survive). He visited Milan again the following year with the
oratorio L'adorazione delli tre re magi al bambino Gesù (RV 645, also lost). In 1722
he moved to Rome, where he introduced his operas' new style. The new pope
Benedict XIII invited Vivaldi to play for him. In 1725, Vivaldi returned to Venice, where
he produced four operas in the same year.
During this period Vivaldi wrote the Four Seasons, four violin concertos depicting
scenes appropriate for each season. Three of the concerti are of original conception,
while the first, "Spring", borrows motifs from a Sinfonia in the first act of his
contemporaneous opera "Il Giustino". The inspiration for the concertos was probably
the countryside around Mantua. They were a revolution in musical conception: in
them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each
specifically characterized), barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds,
storms, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties from both the hunters' and the
prey's point of view, frozen landscapes, ice-skating children, and warming winter
fires. Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, possibly by Vivaldi, describing the
scenes depicted in the music. They were published as the first four concertos in a
collection of twelve, Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, Opus 8, published in
Amsterdam by Le Cène in 1725.
During his time in Mantua, Vivaldi became acquainted with an aspiring young singer
Anna Tessieri Girò who was to become his student, protégée, and favorite prima
donna.34
Anna, along with her older half-sister Paolina, became part of Vivaldi's
entourage and regularly accompanied him on his many travels. There was
speculation about the nature of Vivaldi's and Giro's relationship, but no evidence to
indicate anything beyond friendship and professional collaboration. Although Vivaldi's
relationship with Anna Girò was questioned, he adamantly denied any romantic
relationship in a letter to his patron Bentivoglio dated 16 November 1737.35
Later life and death
At the height of his career, Vivaldi received commissions from European nobility and
royalty. The wedding cantata Gloria e Imeneo (RV 687) was written for the marriage
of Louis XV. Vivaldi's Opus 9, La Cetra, was dedicated to Emperor Charles VI. In
1728, Vivaldi met the emperor while he was visiting Trieste to oversee the
construction of a new port. Charles admired the music of the Red Priest so much that
he is said to have spoken more with the composer during their one meeting than he
spoke to his ministers in over two years. He gave Vivaldi the title of knight, a gold
medal and an invitation to Vienna. Vivaldi gave Charles a manuscript copy of La
Cetra, a set of concerti almost completely different from the set of the same title
published as Opus 9. The printing was probably delayed, forcing Vivaldi to gather an
improvised collection for the emperor.
Frontispiece of Il teatro alla moda
Accompanied by his father, Vivaldi traveled to Vienna and Prague in 1730, where his
opera Farnace (RV 711) was presented.36
Some of his later operas were created in
collaboration with two of Italy's major writers of the time. L'Olimpiade and Catone in
Utica were written by Pietro Metastasio, the major representative of the Arcadian
movement and court poet in Vienna. La Griselda was rewritten by the young Carlo
Goldoni from an earlier libretto by Apostolo Zeno.
Like many composers of the time, the final years of Vivaldi's life found him in financial
difficulties. His compositions were no longer held in such high esteem as they once
were in Venice; changing musical tastes quickly made them outmoded. In response,
Vivaldi chose to sell off sizeable numbers of his manuscripts at paltry prices to
finance his migration to Vienna.37
The reasons for Vivaldi's departure from Venice are
unclear, but it seems likely that, after the success of his meeting with Emperor
Charles VI, he wished to take up the position of a composer in the imperial court. On
his way to Vienna, Vivaldi may have stopped in Graz to see Anna Girò.38
Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE
Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland
www.transitweb.ch
It is also likely that Vivaldi went to Vienna to stage operas, especially as he took up
residence near the Kärntnertortheater. Shortly after his arrival in Vienna, Charles VI
died, which left the composer without any royal protection or a steady source of
income. Soon afterwards, Vivaldi became impoverished3940
and died during the night
of 27/28 July 1741, aged 63,41
of "internal infection", in a house owned by the widow
of a Viennese saddlemaker. On 28 July he was buried in a simple grave in a burial
ground that was owned by the public hospital fund. Vivaldi's funeral took place at St.
Stephen's Cathedral, but the young Joseph Haydn had nothing to do with this burial,
since no music was performed on that occasion. The cost of his funeral with a
'Kleingeläut' was 19 Gulden 45 Kreuzer which was rather expensive for the lowest
class of burials.
He was buried next to Karlskirche, in an area which is now part of the site of the
Technical Institute. The house where he lived in Vienna has since been destroyed;
the Hotel Sacher is built on part of the site. Memorial plaques have been placed at
both locations, as well as a Vivaldi "star" in the Viennese Musikmeile and a
monument at the Rooseveltplatz.
Only three portraits of Vivaldi are known to survive: an engraving, an ink sketch and
an oil painting. The engraving, by Francois Morellon La Cave, was made in 1725 and
shows Vivaldi holding a sheet of music. The ink sketch was done by Ghezzi in 1723
and shows Vivaldi's head and shoulders in profile. The oil painting, which can be
seen in the Liceo Musicale of Bologna, gives us possibly the most accurate picture
and shows Vivaldi's red hair under his blond wig.42
Style and influence
Vivaldi's music was innovative. He brightened the formal and rhythmic structure of
the concerto, in which he looked for harmonic contrasts and innovative melodies and
themes; many of his compositions are flamboyantly, almost playfully, exuberant.
Johann Sebastian Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias
(recalled in his St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, and cantatas). Bach
transcribed six of Vivaldi's concerti for solo keyboard, three for organ, and one for
four harpsichords, strings, and basso continuo (BWV 1065) based upon the concerto
for four violins, two violas, cello, and basso continuo (RV 580).
Posthumous reputation
During his lifetime, Vivaldi's popularity quickly made him famous in other countries,
including France, where musical taste was less dictated by fashion than
elsewhere,citation needed
but after his death the composer's popularity dwindled. After the
Baroque period, Vivaldi's published concerti became relatively unknown and were
largely ignored. Even Vivaldi's most famous work, The Four Seasons, was at that
time unknown in its original ion.
During the early 20th century, Fritz Kreisler's Concerto in C, in the Style of Vivaldi
(which he passed off as an original Vivaldi work) helped revive Vivaldi's reputation.
This spurred the French scholar Marc Pincherle to begin an academic study of
Vivaldi's oeuvre. Many Vivaldi manuscripts were rediscovered, which were acquired
by the Turin National University Library as a result of the generous sponsorship of
Turinese businessmen Roberto Foa and Filippo Giordano, in memory of their sons.
This led to a renewed interest in Vivaldi by, among others, Mario Rinaldi, Alfredo
Casella, Ezra Pound, Olga Rudge, Desmond Chute, Arturo Toscanini, Arnold
Schering and Louis Kaufman, all of whom were instrumental in the Vivaldi revival of
the 20th century.
In 1926, in a monastery in Piedmont, researchers discovered fourteen folios of
Vivaldi's work that were previously thought to have been lost during the Napoleonic
Wars. Some missing volumes in the numbered set were discovered in the collections
of the descendants of the Grand Duke Durazzo, who had acquired the monastery
complex in the 18th century. The volumes contained 300 concertos, 19 operas and
over 100 vocal-instrumental works.43
The resurrection of Vivaldi's unpublished works in the 20th century is mostly due to
the efforts of Alfredo Casella, who in 1939 organized the historic Vivaldi Week, in
which the rediscovered Gloria (RV 589) and l'Olimpiade were revived. Since World
War II, Vivaldi's compositions have enjoyed wide success. Historically informed
performances, often on "original instruments", have increased Vivaldi's fame still
further.
Recent rediscoveries of works by Vivaldi include two psalm settings of Nisi Dominus
(RV 803, in eight movements) and Dixit Dominus (RV 807, in eleven movements).
These were identified in 2003 and 2005 respectively, by the Australian scholar Janice
Stockigt. The Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot described RV 807 as "arguably the best
nonoperatic work from Vivaldi's pen to come to light since... ...the 1920s".44
Vivaldi's
lost 1730 opera Argippo (RV 697) was rediscovered in 2006 by the harpsichordist
and conductor Ondřej Macek, whose Hofmusici orchestra performed the work at
Prague Castle on 3 May 2008, its first performance since 1730.
Many Vivaldi Catalogs
Vivaldi's works attracted cataloging efforts befitting a major composer. Scholarly work
intended to increase the accuracy and variety of Vivaldi performances also supported
new discoveries which made old catalogs incomplete. Works still in circulation today
may be numbered under several different systems (some earlier catalogs are
mentioned here).
Because the simply consecutive Complete ion (CE) numbers did not reflect the
individual works (Opus numbers) into which compositions were grouped, Fanna
numbers were often used in conjunction with CE numbers. Combined Complete ion
(CE)/Fanna numbering was especially common in the work of Italian groups driving
the mid-20th century revival of Vivaldi, such as Gli Accademici di Milano under Piero
Santi. For example, the Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, "La Notte" RV 501,
became CE 12, F. VIII,1
Despite the awkwardness of having to overlay Fanna numbers onto the Complete ion
number for meaningful grouping of Vivaldi's oeuvre, these numbers displaced the
older Pincherle numbers as the (re-)discovery of more manuscripts had rendered
older catalogs obsolete.
This cataloging work was led by the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, where Gian
Francesco Malipiero was both the Director and the or of the published scores
(Edizioni G. Ricordi). His work built on that of Antonio Fanna, a Venetian
businessman and the Institute's founder, and thus formed a bridge to the scholarly
catalog dominant today.
Compositions by Vivaldi are identified today by RV number, the number assigned by
Danish musicologist Peter Ryom in works published mostly in the 1970s, such as the
"Ryom-Verzeichnis" or "Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi". Like the Complete
ion before it, the RV does not typically assign its single, consecutive numbers to
"adjacent" works that occupy one of the composer's single opus numbers. Its goal as
a modern catalog is to index the manuscripts and sources that establish the
existence and nature of all known works. These several numbering systems are
cross-referenced at classical.net.
In popular culture
The movie Vivaldi, a Prince in Venice was completed in 2005 as an Italian-French
co-production under the direction of Jean-Louis Guillermou. In 2005, ABC Radio
National commissioned a radio play about Vivaldi, which was written by Sean Riley.
Entitled The Angel and the Red Priest, the play was later adapted for the stage and
was performed at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts.45
The music of Vivaldi, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Corelli has been included in the
theories of Alfred Tomatis on the effects of music on human behaviour and used in
music therapy.citation needed
Author Janice Jordan Shefelman wrote a children's book detailing the life of Vivaldi
entitled I, Vivaldi.46
Works
Main articles: List of compositions by Antonio Vivaldi and List of operas by Vivaldi
A composition by Vivaldi is identified by RV number, which refers to its place in the
"Ryom-Verzeichnis" or "Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi", a catalog created
in the 20th century by the musicologist Peter Ryom.
Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) of 1723 is his most famous work. Part of Il
cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione ("The Contest between Harmony and
Invention"), it depicts moods and scenes from each of the four seasons. This work
has been described as an outstanding instance of pre-19th century program music.47
Vivaldi wrote more than 500 other concertos. About 350 of these are for solo
instrument and strings, of which 230 are for violin, the others being for bassoon,
cello, oboe, flute, viola d'amore, recorder, lute, or mandolin. About forty concertos are
for two instruments and strings and about thirty are for three or more instruments and
strings.
As well as about 46 operas, Vivaldi composed a large body of sacred choral music.
Other works include sinfonias, about 90 sonatas and chamber music.
Some sonatas for flute, published as Il Pastor Fido, have been erroneously attributed
to Vivaldi, but were composed by Nicolas Chédeville.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vivaldi's Gloria (a collection of choral pieces for SATB) is a very well known and
widely praised piece. The research of Richard Vendome has showed that Vivaldi
wrote this piece while he was the director of music at a girl's dance school, implying
that he intended all the parts - including the tenor and bass lines - to be sung by girls
or women. Vendome's thesis is controversial, but he has proved it to be possible with
his own 'SPAV' choir, which is dedicated to the works of Vivaldi and his students and
in which females sing bass, tenor, soprano and alto, all at pitch.citation needed
Antonio vivaldi

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Antonio vivaldi

  • 1. Antonio Vivaldi Antonio Lucio Vivaldi Italian pronunciation: anˈtɔːnjo ˈluːtʃo viˈvaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna, hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival. Though Vivaldi's music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers. • Childhood The church where Vivaldi was baptised: San Giovanni Battista in Bragora, Sestiere di Castello, Venice Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in 1678 in Venice,1 then the capital of the Republic of Venice. He was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife, which led to a belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though not known for certain, the child's immediate baptism was most likely due either to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake, Vivaldi's mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood.2 Vivaldi's official church baptism took place two months later.3 Vivaldi's parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in the register of San Giovanni in Bragora.4 Vivaldi had five siblings: Margarita Gabriela, Cecilia Maria, Bonaventura Tomaso, Zanetta Anna, and Francesco Gaetano.5 Giovanni Battista, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. Antonio was probably taught at an early age, judging by the extensive musical knowledge he had acquired by the age of 24, when he started working at the
  • 2. Ospedale della Pietà.6 Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians.7 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, an early Baroque composer and the maestro di cappella at St Mark's Basilica. It is possible that Legrenzi gave the young Antonio his first lessons in composition. The Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder has discerned the influence of Legrenzi's style in Vivaldi's early liturgical work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31), written in 1691 at the age of thirteen. Vivaldi's father may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi - the name under which Vivaldi's father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia.8 Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland www.transitweb.ch Vivaldi's health was problematic. His symptoms, strettezza di petto ("tightness of the chest"), have been interpreted as a form of asthma.3 This did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing or taking part in musical activities,3 although it did stop him from playing wind instruments. In 1693, at the age of fifteen, he began studying to become a priest.9 He was ordained in 1703, aged 25. He was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest", because of his red hair.10 "Rosso" is Italian for "Red", and would have referred to the colour of his hair, a family trait. Not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a dispensation from celebrating Mass because of his ill health. Vivaldi only said Mass as a priest a few times. He appears to have withdrawn from priestly duties, but he remained a priest. At the Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pietà In September 1703, Vivaldi became maestro di violino (master of violin) at an orphanage called the Pio Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice.1 While Vivaldi is most famous as a composer, he was regarded as an exceptional technical violinist as well. The German architect Johann Friedrich Armand von Uffenbach referred to Vivaldi as "the famous composer and violinist" and said that "Vivaldi played a solo accompaniment excellently, and at the conclusion he added a free fantasy an improvised cadenza which absolutely astounded me, for it is hardly possible that anyone has ever played, or ever will play, in such a fashion."11 Vivaldi was only 25 when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà. Over the next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there.12 There were four similar institutions in Venice; their purpose was to give shelter and education to children who were abandoned or orphaned, or whose families could not support them. They were financed by funds provided by the Republic.13 The boys learned a trade and had to leave when they reached 15. The girls received a musical education, and the most talented stayed and became members of the Ospedale's renowned orchestra and choir.
  • 3. Shortly after Vivaldi's appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem abroad, too. Vivaldi wrote concertos, cantatas and sacred vocal music for them.14 These sacred works, which number over 60, are varied: they included solo motets and large-scale choral works for soloists, double chorus, and orchestra.15 In 1704, the position of teacher of viola all'inglese was added to his duties as violin instructor.16 The position of maestro di coro, which was at one time filled by Vivaldi, required a lot of time and work. He had to compose an oratorio or concerto at every feast and teach the orphans both music theory and how to play certain instruments.17 His relationship with the board of directors of the Ospedale was often strained. The board had to take a vote every year on whether to keep a teacher. The vote on Vivaldi was seldom unanimous, and went 7 to 6 against him in 1709.18 After a year as a freelance musician, he was recalled by the Ospedale with a unanimous vote in 1711; clearly during his year's absence the board realized the importance of his role.18 He became responsible for all of the musical activity of the institution19 when he was promoted to maestro di' concerti (music director) in 1716.20 In 1705, the first collection (Connor Cassara) of his works was published by Giuseppe Sala:21 his Opus 1 is a collection of 12 sonatas for two violins and basso continuo, in a conventional style.16 In 1709, a second collection of 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo appeared, his Opus 2.22 A real breakthrough as a composer came with his first collection of 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins with strings, L'estro armonico Opus 3, which was published in Amsterdam in 1711 by Estienne Roger,23 dedicated to Grand Prince Ferdinand of Tuscany. The prince sponsored many musicians including Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel. He was a musician himself, and Vivaldi probably met him in Venice.24 L'estro armonico was a resounding success all over Europe. It was followed in 1714 by La stravaganza Opus 4, a collection of concerti for solo violin and strings,25 dedicated to an old violin student of Vivaldi's, the Venetian noble Vettor Dolfin.26 Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland www.transitweb.ch In February 1711, Vivaldi and his father traveled to Brescia, where his setting of the Stabat Mater (RV 621) was played as part of a religious festival. The work seems to have been written in haste: the string parts are simple, the music of the first three movements is repeated in the next three, and not all the text is set. Nevertheless, perhaps in part because of the forced essentiality of the music, the work is one of his early masterpieces. Despite his frequent travels from 1718, the Pietà paid him 2 sequins to write two concerti a month for the orchestra and to rehearse with them at least five times when in Venice. The Pietà's records show that he was paid for 140 concerti between 1723 and 1733. Opera impresario
  • 4. First ion of Juditha triumphans27 In early 18th century Venice, opera was the most popular musical entertainment. It proved most profitable for Vivaldi. There were several theaters competing for the public's attention. Vivaldi started his career as an opera composer as a sideline: his first opera, Ottone in villa (RV 729) was performed not in Venice, but at the Garzerie Theater in Vicenza in 1713.28 The following year, Vivaldi became the impresario of the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice, where his opera Orlando finto pazzo (RV 727) was performed. The work was not to the public's taste, and it closed after a couple of weeks, being replaced with a repeat of a different work already given the previous year.24 In 1715, he presented Nerone fatto Cesare (RV 724, now lost), with music by seven different composers, of which he was the leader. The opera contained eleven arias, and was a success. In the late season, Vivaldi planned to put on an opera composed entirely by him, Arsilda, regina di Ponto (RV 700), but the state censor blocked the performance. The main character, Arsilda, falls in love with another woman, Lisea, who is pretending to be a man.24 Vivaldi got the censor to accept the opera the following year, and it was a resounding success. At this period, the Pietà commissioned several liturgical works. The most important were two oratorios. Moyses Deus Pharaonis, (RV 643) is lost. The second, Juditha triumphans (RV 644), celebrates the victory of the Republic of Venice against the Turks and the recapture of the island of Corfù. Composed in 1716, it is one of his sacred masterpieces. All eleven singing parts were performed by girls of the Pietà, both the female and male roles. Many of the arias include parts for solo instruments —recorders, oboes, clarinetscitation needed , violas d'amore, and mandolins—that showcased the range of talents of the girls.29 Also in 1716, Vivaldi wrote and produced two more operas, L'incoronazione di Dario (RV 719) and La costanza trionfante degli amori e degli odi (RV 706). The latter was so popular that it performed two years later, re-ed and retitled Artabano re dei Parti (RV 701, now lost). It was also performed in Prague in 1732. In the following years, Vivaldi wrote several operas that were performed all over Italy. His progressive operatic style caused him some trouble with more conservative musicians, like Benedetto Marcello, a magistrate and amateur musician who wrote a pamphlet denouncing him and his operas. The pamphlet, Il teatro alla moda, attacks Vivaldi without mentioning him directly. The cover drawing shows a boat (the Sant'Angelo), on the left end of which stands a little angel wearing a priest's hat and playing the violin. The Marcello family claimed ownership of the Teatro Sant'Angelo, and a long legal battle had been fought with the management for its restitution, without success. The obscure writing under the picture mentions non-existent places and names: ALDIVIVA is an anagram of A. Vivaldi. In a letter written by Vivaldi to his patron Marchese Bentivoglio in 1737, he makes reference to his "94 operas". Only around 50 operas by Vivaldi have been discovered, and no other documentation of the remaining operas exists. Although Vivaldi may have exaggerated, in his dual role of composer and impresario it is plausible that he may either have written or been responsible for the production of as many as 94 operas during a career which by then had spanned almost 25 years.30
  • 5. While Vivaldi certainly composed many operas in his time, he never reached the prominence of other great composers like Alessandro Scarlatti, Johann Adolph Hasse, Leonardo Leo, and Baldassare Galuppi, as evidenced by his inability to keep a production running for any extended period of time in any major opera house.31 His most successful operas were La constanza trionfante and Farnace which garnered six revivals each.31 Mantua and The Four Seasons Caricature by P. L. Ghezzi, Rome (1723)32 In 1717 or 1718, Vivaldi was offered a new prestigious position as Maestro di Cappella of the court of prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua.33 He moved there for three years and produced several operas, among which was Tito Manlio (RV 738). In 1721, he was in Milan, where he presented the pastoral drama La Silvia (RV 734, 9 arias survive). He visited Milan again the following year with the oratorio L'adorazione delli tre re magi al bambino Gesù (RV 645, also lost). In 1722 he moved to Rome, where he introduced his operas' new style. The new pope Benedict XIII invited Vivaldi to play for him. In 1725, Vivaldi returned to Venice, where he produced four operas in the same year. During this period Vivaldi wrote the Four Seasons, four violin concertos depicting scenes appropriate for each season. Three of the concerti are of original conception, while the first, "Spring", borrows motifs from a Sinfonia in the first act of his contemporaneous opera "Il Giustino". The inspiration for the concertos was probably the countryside around Mantua. They were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized), barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds, storms, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties from both the hunters' and the prey's point of view, frozen landscapes, ice-skating children, and warming winter fires. Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, possibly by Vivaldi, describing the scenes depicted in the music. They were published as the first four concertos in a collection of twelve, Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, Opus 8, published in Amsterdam by Le Cène in 1725. During his time in Mantua, Vivaldi became acquainted with an aspiring young singer Anna Tessieri Girò who was to become his student, protégée, and favorite prima donna.34 Anna, along with her older half-sister Paolina, became part of Vivaldi's entourage and regularly accompanied him on his many travels. There was speculation about the nature of Vivaldi's and Giro's relationship, but no evidence to indicate anything beyond friendship and professional collaboration. Although Vivaldi's relationship with Anna Girò was questioned, he adamantly denied any romantic relationship in a letter to his patron Bentivoglio dated 16 November 1737.35 Later life and death
  • 6. At the height of his career, Vivaldi received commissions from European nobility and royalty. The wedding cantata Gloria e Imeneo (RV 687) was written for the marriage of Louis XV. Vivaldi's Opus 9, La Cetra, was dedicated to Emperor Charles VI. In 1728, Vivaldi met the emperor while he was visiting Trieste to oversee the construction of a new port. Charles admired the music of the Red Priest so much that he is said to have spoken more with the composer during their one meeting than he spoke to his ministers in over two years. He gave Vivaldi the title of knight, a gold medal and an invitation to Vienna. Vivaldi gave Charles a manuscript copy of La Cetra, a set of concerti almost completely different from the set of the same title published as Opus 9. The printing was probably delayed, forcing Vivaldi to gather an improvised collection for the emperor. Frontispiece of Il teatro alla moda Accompanied by his father, Vivaldi traveled to Vienna and Prague in 1730, where his opera Farnace (RV 711) was presented.36 Some of his later operas were created in collaboration with two of Italy's major writers of the time. L'Olimpiade and Catone in Utica were written by Pietro Metastasio, the major representative of the Arcadian movement and court poet in Vienna. La Griselda was rewritten by the young Carlo Goldoni from an earlier libretto by Apostolo Zeno. Like many composers of the time, the final years of Vivaldi's life found him in financial difficulties. His compositions were no longer held in such high esteem as they once were in Venice; changing musical tastes quickly made them outmoded. In response, Vivaldi chose to sell off sizeable numbers of his manuscripts at paltry prices to finance his migration to Vienna.37 The reasons for Vivaldi's departure from Venice are unclear, but it seems likely that, after the success of his meeting with Emperor Charles VI, he wished to take up the position of a composer in the imperial court. On his way to Vienna, Vivaldi may have stopped in Graz to see Anna Girò.38 Dominic Patric DE NEUVILLE Übersetzungsbüro TRANSIT translation services Zurich Switzerland www.transitweb.ch It is also likely that Vivaldi went to Vienna to stage operas, especially as he took up residence near the Kärntnertortheater. Shortly after his arrival in Vienna, Charles VI died, which left the composer without any royal protection or a steady source of income. Soon afterwards, Vivaldi became impoverished3940 and died during the night of 27/28 July 1741, aged 63,41 of "internal infection", in a house owned by the widow of a Viennese saddlemaker. On 28 July he was buried in a simple grave in a burial ground that was owned by the public hospital fund. Vivaldi's funeral took place at St. Stephen's Cathedral, but the young Joseph Haydn had nothing to do with this burial, since no music was performed on that occasion. The cost of his funeral with a 'Kleingeläut' was 19 Gulden 45 Kreuzer which was rather expensive for the lowest class of burials. He was buried next to Karlskirche, in an area which is now part of the site of the Technical Institute. The house where he lived in Vienna has since been destroyed;
  • 7. the Hotel Sacher is built on part of the site. Memorial plaques have been placed at both locations, as well as a Vivaldi "star" in the Viennese Musikmeile and a monument at the Rooseveltplatz. Only three portraits of Vivaldi are known to survive: an engraving, an ink sketch and an oil painting. The engraving, by Francois Morellon La Cave, was made in 1725 and shows Vivaldi holding a sheet of music. The ink sketch was done by Ghezzi in 1723 and shows Vivaldi's head and shoulders in profile. The oil painting, which can be seen in the Liceo Musicale of Bologna, gives us possibly the most accurate picture and shows Vivaldi's red hair under his blond wig.42 Style and influence Vivaldi's music was innovative. He brightened the formal and rhythmic structure of the concerto, in which he looked for harmonic contrasts and innovative melodies and themes; many of his compositions are flamboyantly, almost playfully, exuberant. Johann Sebastian Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias (recalled in his St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, and cantatas). Bach transcribed six of Vivaldi's concerti for solo keyboard, three for organ, and one for four harpsichords, strings, and basso continuo (BWV 1065) based upon the concerto for four violins, two violas, cello, and basso continuo (RV 580). Posthumous reputation During his lifetime, Vivaldi's popularity quickly made him famous in other countries, including France, where musical taste was less dictated by fashion than elsewhere,citation needed but after his death the composer's popularity dwindled. After the Baroque period, Vivaldi's published concerti became relatively unknown and were largely ignored. Even Vivaldi's most famous work, The Four Seasons, was at that time unknown in its original ion. During the early 20th century, Fritz Kreisler's Concerto in C, in the Style of Vivaldi (which he passed off as an original Vivaldi work) helped revive Vivaldi's reputation. This spurred the French scholar Marc Pincherle to begin an academic study of Vivaldi's oeuvre. Many Vivaldi manuscripts were rediscovered, which were acquired by the Turin National University Library as a result of the generous sponsorship of Turinese businessmen Roberto Foa and Filippo Giordano, in memory of their sons. This led to a renewed interest in Vivaldi by, among others, Mario Rinaldi, Alfredo Casella, Ezra Pound, Olga Rudge, Desmond Chute, Arturo Toscanini, Arnold Schering and Louis Kaufman, all of whom were instrumental in the Vivaldi revival of the 20th century. In 1926, in a monastery in Piedmont, researchers discovered fourteen folios of Vivaldi's work that were previously thought to have been lost during the Napoleonic Wars. Some missing volumes in the numbered set were discovered in the collections of the descendants of the Grand Duke Durazzo, who had acquired the monastery complex in the 18th century. The volumes contained 300 concertos, 19 operas and over 100 vocal-instrumental works.43
  • 8. The resurrection of Vivaldi's unpublished works in the 20th century is mostly due to the efforts of Alfredo Casella, who in 1939 organized the historic Vivaldi Week, in which the rediscovered Gloria (RV 589) and l'Olimpiade were revived. Since World War II, Vivaldi's compositions have enjoyed wide success. Historically informed performances, often on "original instruments", have increased Vivaldi's fame still further. Recent rediscoveries of works by Vivaldi include two psalm settings of Nisi Dominus (RV 803, in eight movements) and Dixit Dominus (RV 807, in eleven movements). These were identified in 2003 and 2005 respectively, by the Australian scholar Janice Stockigt. The Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot described RV 807 as "arguably the best nonoperatic work from Vivaldi's pen to come to light since... ...the 1920s".44 Vivaldi's lost 1730 opera Argippo (RV 697) was rediscovered in 2006 by the harpsichordist and conductor Ondřej Macek, whose Hofmusici orchestra performed the work at Prague Castle on 3 May 2008, its first performance since 1730. Many Vivaldi Catalogs Vivaldi's works attracted cataloging efforts befitting a major composer. Scholarly work intended to increase the accuracy and variety of Vivaldi performances also supported new discoveries which made old catalogs incomplete. Works still in circulation today may be numbered under several different systems (some earlier catalogs are mentioned here). Because the simply consecutive Complete ion (CE) numbers did not reflect the individual works (Opus numbers) into which compositions were grouped, Fanna numbers were often used in conjunction with CE numbers. Combined Complete ion (CE)/Fanna numbering was especially common in the work of Italian groups driving the mid-20th century revival of Vivaldi, such as Gli Accademici di Milano under Piero Santi. For example, the Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, "La Notte" RV 501, became CE 12, F. VIII,1 Despite the awkwardness of having to overlay Fanna numbers onto the Complete ion number for meaningful grouping of Vivaldi's oeuvre, these numbers displaced the older Pincherle numbers as the (re-)discovery of more manuscripts had rendered older catalogs obsolete. This cataloging work was led by the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, where Gian Francesco Malipiero was both the Director and the or of the published scores (Edizioni G. Ricordi). His work built on that of Antonio Fanna, a Venetian businessman and the Institute's founder, and thus formed a bridge to the scholarly catalog dominant today. Compositions by Vivaldi are identified today by RV number, the number assigned by Danish musicologist Peter Ryom in works published mostly in the 1970s, such as the "Ryom-Verzeichnis" or "Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi". Like the Complete ion before it, the RV does not typically assign its single, consecutive numbers to "adjacent" works that occupy one of the composer's single opus numbers. Its goal as a modern catalog is to index the manuscripts and sources that establish the existence and nature of all known works. These several numbering systems are cross-referenced at classical.net.
  • 9. In popular culture The movie Vivaldi, a Prince in Venice was completed in 2005 as an Italian-French co-production under the direction of Jean-Louis Guillermou. In 2005, ABC Radio National commissioned a radio play about Vivaldi, which was written by Sean Riley. Entitled The Angel and the Red Priest, the play was later adapted for the stage and was performed at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts.45 The music of Vivaldi, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Corelli has been included in the theories of Alfred Tomatis on the effects of music on human behaviour and used in music therapy.citation needed Author Janice Jordan Shefelman wrote a children's book detailing the life of Vivaldi entitled I, Vivaldi.46 Works Main articles: List of compositions by Antonio Vivaldi and List of operas by Vivaldi A composition by Vivaldi is identified by RV number, which refers to its place in the "Ryom-Verzeichnis" or "Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi", a catalog created in the 20th century by the musicologist Peter Ryom. Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) of 1723 is his most famous work. Part of Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione ("The Contest between Harmony and Invention"), it depicts moods and scenes from each of the four seasons. This work has been described as an outstanding instance of pre-19th century program music.47 Vivaldi wrote more than 500 other concertos. About 350 of these are for solo instrument and strings, of which 230 are for violin, the others being for bassoon, cello, oboe, flute, viola d'amore, recorder, lute, or mandolin. About forty concertos are for two instruments and strings and about thirty are for three or more instruments and strings. As well as about 46 operas, Vivaldi composed a large body of sacred choral music. Other works include sinfonias, about 90 sonatas and chamber music. Some sonatas for flute, published as Il Pastor Fido, have been erroneously attributed to Vivaldi, but were composed by Nicolas Chédeville. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Vivaldi's Gloria (a collection of choral pieces for SATB) is a very well known and widely praised piece. The research of Richard Vendome has showed that Vivaldi wrote this piece while he was the director of music at a girl's dance school, implying that he intended all the parts - including the tenor and bass lines - to be sung by girls or women. Vendome's thesis is controversial, but he has proved it to be possible with his own 'SPAV' choir, which is dedicated to the works of Vivaldi and his students and in which females sing bass, tenor, soprano and alto, all at pitch.citation needed