Antonio Vivaldi

Biography of Antonio Vivaldi
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Antonio Vivaldi Biography

Antonio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741). Italian composer and violinist. He was born in Venice, Italy. His father was his mentor and also the influence for Antonio to dabble in the music and composition world. His father, Giovanni Battista, was a violinist in the cathedral of San Marcos. Since he was a kid, he presented a taste for music, although he did not dedicate himself to it from the beginning because he was ordained a priest in 1703. However, his life as a priest was interrupted by his health problems; respiratory complications, probably asthma or angina. At some point, he had to leave the Mass for a respiratory attack.

Once he decided to go to the music, he became interested in the opera because, in reality, it was the most outstanding and successful genre at the time.

He began teaching a group of orphaned girls who lived in the Ospedale della Pietá in a conservatory, where he worked as music director until 1740, simultaneously composing concerts for weekly events. During this time, he composed a big part of his repertoire. Several of his works were performed for the first time by his female choirs, such as the Suonate da camera Op. 1 (1705), and the twelve concerts that make up the L’estro harmonica Op. 3 (1711) collection.

He was also composer and entrepreneur of operas in the city of Venice. Also, visited several cities to share his admirable operas. After quitting to the direction of the choir of the Ospedale della Pietá. He was chosen to be part of the service of the court of Emperor Charles VI in Vienna. Known for his experience and great skills, he began to enter the theatrical world as a composer and entrepreneur. “Ottone in Villa” was the first of Vivaldi’s operas that had great impact and fame. It was followed by works such as “Orlando Furioso”, “Armida al campo d’Egitto”, “Tito Manlio” and “L’Olimpiade”.

The fame of the musician was catapulted with the publication of the following instrumental collections: Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione Op. 8 and La Cetra Op. 9.The first was a collection published in Amsterdam in 1725 which contained twelve concerts and four of them were concerts with violin soloist called “The Four Seasons”, the best of the collection and the most famous of his work.

In “The Four Seasons”, Vivaldi reflects the semantic capacity of music and its ability to create sonorous, evocative and intimate climates. The work narrates the annual cycle of nature, and how men and animals live it. Each of the four concerts musically develops the four seasons. Thus, Spring reproduces the song of the birds and the song of the harvest. In addition, he represents the shepherd who sleeps with the solo violin, while the violins that accompany him imitate the whisper of the plants and with the viola, he imitates the barking of the dog. Summer, musically interprets the aridity of the sun, followed by a storm, which was announced from the beginning of the composition. Now, autumn presents the lethargic intoxication of a villager, grateful for the harvest; then, it is interpreted at dawn. Finally, in the winter the sound of snow and ice prevail.

Vivaldi’s production not only covers the concert genre but also chamber, vocal and opera music, which was demonstrated in his concert “The Four Seasons”.  Vivaldi is by law, one of the greatest composers of the Baroque period, he promoted the Venetian School, which belonged Tommaso Albinoni, brothers Benedetto, and Alessandro Marcello. His impact was such that later contributed to the formation of Bach and Haendel.

His total work is estimated in more than 500 concerts and 70 sonatas, 45 operas, religious music such as the oratorio Juditha Triumphans (1716), the Glory in D (1708), masses and motets. His concerts were admired and replied throughout Europe, influencing all his contemporaries. More than 300 of his concerts are written for a soloist. We see that his abundant concert work was a significant contribution to the historical evolution that led to the consolidation of the symphony. Vivaldi was an artist so original and unmistakable by the style he imprinted in his works that makes it indisputably recognizable.

On the other hand, he was responsible for laying the basic characteristics of what future concerts would be. He was the pioneer composer in using the ritornello coherently. This one was repeated in different tonalities and interpreted by the whole orchestra. In some cases, it alternated with episodes played by the soloist.

His violin concerts “Opus 8”, “The Four Seasons”, are faithful examples of this type, of programmatic music. In such compositions, there is the presence of the old “concerto grosso” format. In spite of this, the author’s invention surpasses any scheme and shows a tendency toward the solo conception of the concert. In the twelve concerts of La stravaganza Op. 4, which has a lighter and faster composition, almost exclusively homophonic, this trend is perceived to implement the soloist form of the concert. With these collections, Antonio Vivaldi was known throughout the Italian territory, quickly extending to the European continent, not only as a composer but as a violinist, as it was one of the best of its time. His high technical level as a musician reflected in his solo interventions prove that he was the best in this field.

The career of Antonio Vivaldi was interrupted by his death on July 28, 1741. His funeral was celebrated in the cathedral of Vienna, the children from the choir of the cathedral sang in the ceremony, among which Joseph Haydn.

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