About Antonio Vivaldi

Current or Historical: 

Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678. His life and legacy is a great and thrilling drama of genius, success, complete oblivion and sudden and glorious resurrection.

Vivaldi was educated and ordained to become a priest, but he resigned from priesthood very early in his carreer. Instead, he decided to earn his living as a violinist, composer and music teacher. He had many different employment engagements during his life. Those included a number of opera theaters, courts of princes and schools. He had most long lasting relationship with Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pietà - an orphanage for girls, well funded and well established. Antonio Vivaldi served there as teacher of violin and music. He continued there for about 30 years sometimes taking a leave. Under his direction the choire and orchestra of the orphanage became famous locally and abroad. Vivaldi composed an enormous number of pieces while at the Ospedale.

His fame and influence spread all over Europe. He was well known as a violin virtuoso but also as innovative composer in Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany, England.He developed rhythmic structure of music, introduced harmonic contrasts, invented many many melodic progressions and themes.

An example of his authority and influence was J.S.Bach.He recalled some of Vialdi's concerti and arias in St. Matthew Passion. Bach transcribed six of Vivaldis concerti for solo keyboard. Music of Bach acquired new "Italian" style after Bach's acquaintance with Vivaldi's work.

Antonio Vibaldi's legacy included over 500 concerti, 46 operas and hundreds of shorter sacred and secular pieces.

However, at the end of his carreer, his music lost its appeal, Vivaldi experienced a lot of financial difficulties, sold his compositions for pennies and emigrated to Vienna, Austria, where he was promised a job by the Emperor. The emperor died while Vivaldi was on his way. The composer was left without any means or protection. He died a poor man a few months later, in 1741.

His muisc was almost completely forgotten, his name became obscure and known only to a few musicologists. For over 200 years this name was just a line in books on history of music.

But then - something happened. In 1926 a Catholic priest and a curator in the Torino (Italy) Library discovered a small box containing an unopened archive of about 90 pieces, printed editions and manuscripts autographed by Vivaldi. The pieces were incomplete and bound together without proper order and mixed. That lead to an idea that somebody sold off parts of a bigger collection, and that big collection might be found. And it was! After many years of negotiations, research, secrecy and bargaining, interrupted by World War II, the enormous collection of Vivaldi's work was created, studied and returned to life. 

In 1951, in London, the newly build Royal Festival Hall offered its listeners the full season of Vivaldi's music.

Now Vivaldi is the most performed Baroque composer rivaled only by J.S.Bach. Miracles do happen!

Summer, 1st movement

Summer, 2nd movement
Summer, 3rd movement