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Antonio Vivaldi
Written by Tiffany Aardema
The Baroque Period
-Vivaldi's music took place during the Baroque period and was
characteristics as such.
-The Baroque Period took place roughly from 1600-1750.
Characteristics of Baroque music: having a major/minor
tonality, everything is very ornate and grand, performances are
no longer just taking place in churches and are taking place in
public theatres.
Opera was at large, the texture of music could be polyphonic,
monodic or soloistic. It was a very rich and embellished time
period and you can clearly see that Vivaldis music. Everything
was big and grand. Music was meant to be enjoyed and was
for secular purposes as well as religious purposes.
Antonio Vivaldi:
“above all, he was possessed by music.” –Marc Pincherle
Antonio Vivaldi was born March 4th, 1678 in Venice.
He was the son of a violinist and Vivaldi was a virtuosic violinist.
He, like Bach, was known throughout his life as more of a performer
than a composer.
While in his twenties he was ordained in the church and became
known as “the red priest” because he had red hair.
He was maestro de’ concerti (music master) at the Conservatroio
dell’Osperdale della Pieta. These schools were charitable schools in
charge of the upbringing of orphaned girls.
He was very accomplished and earned 50,000 ducats in his time
(about 4 million dollars.)
Musical Contributions
Vivaldi is remembered for more than 500 concertos-230 of
which are for solo violin.
He wrote chamber music, numerous operas and some cantatas.
Vivaldi is remembered for his best-known work The Four
Seasons (a group of four violin concertos.) This piece was also
done in the style of program music- music written with a text
or poem in mind.
Vivaldi made numerous contributions to the violin and the
technicality and virtuosity of the instrument. He improved the
performance associated with the violin and was a very
influential violinist and composer.
The Four Seasons
Allegro non molto
Frozen and shivering in the icy snow.
In the strong blasts of a terrible wind
To run stamping one’s feet at every step
With one’s teeth chattering through the cold.
To spend the quiet and happy days by the fire
Whilst outside the rain soaks everyone.
To walk on the ice with slow steps
And go carefully for fear of falling.
To go in haste, slide and fall down:
To go again on the ice and run,
Until the ice cracks and open.
To hear leaving their iron-gated house
Sirocco, Boreas and all the winds in battle:
This is winter, but it brings joy.
The four seasons continued
On the previous slide, you can read the text that was used for the program
music The Four Seasons and the movement of Winter.
Those sonnets were published along with the music for The Four Seasons
(which Vivaldi composed based on four paintings of the seasons by Marco
Ricci.) The poems are generally thought to be written by Vivaldi himself -based on comments he made in the margins of his sheet music, but there is
some question over the attribution.
The music is very virtuosic and technical and is meant to showcase the
violinist. It has some unsettling and dissonant chords that get resolved. The
second movement is much slower and more peaceful than the first, the
tempo increases and decreases throughout the piece, as well as the
dynamics which change throughout the piece.
L’estro Armonico
This piece is Opus 3 No.1 in D
Major and titled L’estro
The time signature is in 4/4 and it
has a gradual decrescendo before
the 1st movement ends.
The second movement has a much
richer, darker tone color and is
much slower.
And the 3rd movement picks up
tempo again and is much brighter
and cheery and it is in ¾ timing
and not 4/4/.
The focus of the whole piece is
the violins and they are
showcased throughout the whole
Antonio Vivaldi died on
July 28th, 1741 in Vienna
most likely due to
“internal fire” (asthmatic
bronchitis which he
suffered from most of his
He had a modest burial
much like Mozart and
died in poverty due to
his extravagant lifestyle.
Fun Facts!
Vivaldi was reputedly vain and conceited, yet
energetic and talented.
Vivaldi claimed to have composed 94 operas, but
less than 50 are confirmed. He also claimed to
compose music faster than it could be copied.
Although Vivaldi suffered from a serious lifelong
condition (probably asthma), he took frequent
trips abroad, often with a large entourage.
Vivaldi was enormously popular in Germany.
Bach transcribed some of the Opus 3 concertos
which Vivaldi wrote, and Bach openly admired
The enjoyment of music tenth edition –Kristine Forney &
Joseph Machlis