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from The Four
Seasons (1725)
Antonio Vivaldi
The composition
The violin concertos were first published in
1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti,
Vivaldi's Op. 8, entitled Il cimento
dell'armonia e dell'inventione (The
Contest between Harmony and
Invention). The first four concertos were
designated Le quattro stagioni, each
being named after a season. Each
concerto is in three movements, with a
slow movement between two faster ones.
Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, "La primavera" (Spring)
Allegro Pastorale
Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, "L'estate" (Summer)
Allegro non molto
Adagio e piano – Presto e forte
Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, "L'autunno"
also known as the "Danza Pastorale" (Autumn)
Adagio molto
Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, "L'inverno" (Winter)
Allegro non molto
Vivaldi's Four Seasons are among the
boldest program music of the baroque
period. Antonio Vivaldi wrote the
individual Sonnets to go along with each
movement of the Four Seasons.
“Spring” sonnet text
1. Spring has come and joyfully the birds greet it with
happy song, and the brooks, while the streams flow
along with gentle murmur as the zephyrs blow. There
come, shrouding the air with a black cloak, lighting and
thunder chosen to herald [the storm]; then, when these
are silent, the little birds return to their melodious
2. And now, in the pleasant, flowery meadow, to the soft
murmur of leaves and plants, the goatherd sleeps with
his faithful dog at his side.
3. To the festive sound of a pastoral bagpipe, nymphs and
shepherds dance under their beloved roof, greeting the
glittering arrival of the spring.
Original orchestration:
Solo violin, with string orchestra (violin,
viola, cello, bass, harpsichord)
An analysis of the first
movement of Spring:
The composer:
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (4
March 1678 – 28 July
1741), nicknamed "The
Red Priest" because of his
red hair, was an Italian
Baroque composer, priest,
and virtuoso violinist, born
in Venice.
Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest
Baroque composers, and his influence
during his lifetime was widespread over
Vivaldi is known mainly for composing
instrumental concertos, especially for the
violin, as well as sacred choral works and
over 40 operas. The Four Seasons is his
best-known work.
Many of Vivaldi’s compositions were written for the
female music ensemble of the Ospedale della
Pietà, a home for abandoned children where
Vivaldi worked 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, and the
composer died a pauper, without a steady
source of income.
The Time and Place
The Baroque is a period of artistic style
that used exaggerated motion and clear,
easily interpreted detail to produce
drama, tension, exuberance, and
grandeur in sculpture, painting,
architecture, literature, dance, and music.
The style started around 1600 in Rome,
Italy and spread to most of Europe.
1750, the year of J.S. Bach’s death, is
usually listed as the end of the Baroque.
Paintings depicted images to evoke
emotion. The portrait style of painting
used light shadows to convey meaning
and passion. Baroque artists chose to
capture dramatic events that occurred
over a period of time.
Human forms and figures constituted a major part of
the Baroque culture. The demand for stone
sculptures grew steadily during this era. The
positioning of statues, interspersed with the use of
sunlight and moonlight, were theatrically used in
chapels. Marble carvings depicted human emotions
on the faces of statues
Virtuosity became recognized and
instrumental soloists evolved
Improvisation and ornamentation played an
important role in performance
The Opera developed during this period, as
did the concerto.
Major and minor tonalities evolved and
meter became more consistent.
Baroque clothing
San Marco
Important events/discoveries
Playwright William Shakespeare of England writes Othello, King Lear and Antony and
Pocahontas, daughter of the famed Indian chief of the Powhatans, marries John Rolfe
after being held for ransom by the English colonists.
The Mayflower, carrying 100 pilgrims, arrives off the North American coast at Plymouth
Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei is threatened with torture if he refuses to withdraw his
heretical propositions supporting a sun-centered solar system; Galileo recants.
Italian Evangelista Torricelli invents the first barometer, to measure air pressure.
Clockmaking is revolutionized when Dutch mathematician Christian Huygens introduces
the use of the pendulum.
The production of world-renowned Stradivarius violins begins in Cremona, Italy
The famous Observatory in Greenwich, England, is founded for astronomical research;
the observatory also establishes a standard time to help determine longitude.
English physicist Isaac Newton defines the laws of gravity and universal laws of motion.
he infamous witch trials of Salem begin in the colony of Massachusetts, and 20
"witches" are eventually put to death.
Edmund Halley's studies propose that comets sighted in 1531, 1607, and 1682 are one
and the same, and the celestial body is named Halley's Comet in
his honor.
Physicist Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit invents a thermometer that uses mercury instead of
Inoculation is tested in two smallpox epidemics (in London and Boston) and proved
Benjamin Franklin founds the first circulating library in North America.
Scottish physician James Lind discovers that citrus fruit is the only effective cure for
Concerto: (1) the solo concerto for one soloist and
orchestra, (2) the concerto grosso for two or more soloists
and orchestra
An Opus number refers to a number generally assigned by
composers to an individual composition or set of
compositions on publication, to help identify their works.
Program music is a type of art music that attempts to
musically render an extra-musical narrative. The narrative
itself might be offered to the audience in the form of
program notes, inviting imaginative correlations with the
A ritornello (Italian; "little return") is a recurring passage in
Baroque music for orchestra or chorus. The first or final
movement of a solo concerto may be in "ritornello form", in
which the ritornello is the opening theme, always played by
tutti, which returns in whole or in part and in different keys
throughout the movement.