Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice on March 4 th, 1678 to Giovanni Vattista Vivaldi and his wife Camilla Calicchio. Giovanni Vivaldi was originally a barber but, like his infamous son, was intensely in love with the violin and started serving both as a violin teacher at a school and as a part of the St. Mark Basilica orchestra (Antonio Vivaldi). The first born of nine children, Antonio Vivaldi was born so feeble and sickly that the midwife, fearing his death, had him baptized immediately (Vivaldi, Antonio, 407). Vivaldi s musical talents appeared early. As a child, Antonio Vivaldi and his father oftentimes preformed together and were even noted as one of Venice s main tourist attractions (Vivaldi Homepage).
He was soon allowed to substitute for his father in the church orchestra; therefore, Vivaldi was raised with the great tradition of Venetian music (Vivaldi, Antonio, 407). Vivaldi soon began his study of priesthood at the age of 14 or 15; an idea probably pushed on him from his father. It was a common way for a poor family to get a free education for their child. Further, as a member of the clergy one gained respect in the city. Because of his bright red hair inherited from his father, Vivaldi became known as the, Red Priest. – Ordained on March 23, 1703, the 25 year old Vivaldi took up a position at an all girls orphanage called the Ospedale delle Pieta (the Hospital of Pity).
Often misconceived as an orphanage, the school s residents were mostly the illegitimate daughters of Venice s noblemen. Thus, Ospedale was well endowed by the anonymous fathers, and the school was kept up, the ladies well looked after, and their musical standards were among the highest in Venice (Vivaldi Homepage). Vivaldi served here both as the music teacher and to write two concerti every month for their girl choir to preform. This explains the variety of music Vivaldi wrote for.
The girls must have possessed considerable talent due to the difficulty of the music Vivaldi wrote for them (Vivaldi Homepage 1). The same year he began at Ospedale, Vivaldi ceased to say mass, claiming that his bad health prevented him from doing so (Antonio Vivaldi). While it is certain he suffered from asthma throughout his life, it is uncertain to what extent, if any, he exaggerated his health. The Ospedale s all-female orchestra soon outgrew the churches.
Not only was Vivaldi s fame escalating but some of his pupils made names for themselves. Because of this, many of Venice s elite began to send their daughters to the school to study music. The girls performed in groups of up to forty players and preformed every weekend and on holidays (Vivaldi Homepage). This institution was on of the four famous Venetian music schools which rivaled on another in various concerts appealing to many European enthusiasts who traveled to come and listen (Vivaldi, Antonio, 407). It was during Vivaldi's time at the school that the Ospedale reached the height of its fame (Blom, 26). While he stayed at the Ospedale for almost his whole life, there were various periods where he left, either traveling or simply voted out of the house by it s owners.
From 1718-20 Vivaldi stayed with Prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt as his Maestro di Cappella da Camera. Writing music for all sorts of festivals and events, he wrote numerous cantatas, instrumental music, and opera, including Armada in 1718 and Teuzzone and Tito Manlio in 1719, however these were not his first operas (Antonio Vivaldi). His first opera, Ott one in Villa, premiered in Vicenza at the tiny Theater delle Garzerie on May 17, 1713. While only 22 of Vivaldi s opera s exist today with fifty known, in a letter from 1737 he states that he has written 94 (Vivaldi, Antonio, 407). It was in 1720 that Vivaldi returned to his birthplace where he managed at least 18 operas written by himself in the Teatro Sant Angelo. It was one of the even opera houses in the city at this time.
While it wasn't the most beautiful opera house in Venice, S Angelo practiced low charges for tickets and were kn own to let the poor in for free when there was space available (Antonio Vivaldi). The last high point for Vivaldi s opera career came in 1735 when he wrote four new operas for the Venetian Carnival: Adelaide, Griselda, Aristide, and Gin evra (Vivaldi Homepage). However, Vivaldi never reached success in his operas, it was his concertos. Opus 3, a collection of 12 concertos for violin entitled, L Est ro Armonico (The Musical Inspiration) is what brought him both fame and a set style. The Vivaldi style is tight, rhythmic, with three fast slow fast movements, and stunning instrument solos (Vivaldi Homepage). It seemed at times that the soloist was at war with the rest of the orchestra due to the contrasts in speed, volume, etc.
(Vivaldi Homepage). It was in 1725 that his most famous work was published in Amsterdam. Opus 8, The Four Seasons, is composed of four violin concertos that are named after a season. Each season includes a sonnet written by Vivaldi that describes the intent of the music. These four were part of a larger collection of twelve called, Il Cim ento Dell Armenia E Del Invention, (The Contest of Harmony and Invention). As the title indicates, Vivaldi shows an ongoing battle between harmony, opposing forces of invention, fantasy, and creativity, (Vivaldi Homepage).
These concertos were enormously successful, especially in France. Louis XV and Louis XIV both have had music written for them (Blom, 27). Oftentimes Vivaldi would write in parts of his previous works into his new ones. For example, RV, 442, a concerto for fl auto, reappeared again in Opus 10 and the opera s Teuzzone, Tirane, and Guis tino. The Four Seasons also reappears in multiple other works of his (Vivaldi Homepage). Woodwind instruments were a focal point of most European orchestras, but the trend wasn t popular in Italy.
Vivaldi, however, was one of the few Italian composes interested in the woodwinds, composing various concerti for them. This was probably due to Vivaldi's extensive traveling. It is highly likely that Vivaldi played some of these instruments as well (Vivaldi Homepage). Vivaldi s non-secular music remains relatively little known. His sacred works include an extensive seven part Magnificent and a Gloria with eleven different sections (encyclopedia). These both expanded his musical range and gave us a greater array or music to listen too.
Rather than just concertos, Vivaldi brought us motets, liturgical works, an oratorio, two Magnificats, and two large scale choral and orchestral works set to Gloria (Vivaldi Homepage). His holy music shows a command of traditional Venetian polyphony, in contrast to his somewhat loose and uncomplicated harmonic structures of his concerti (Vivaldi, Antonio, 407). Very little is known about Vivaldi s personal life. Vivaldi did not marry, and it is not known if he had romantic relations of any kind. However, there is speculation of intimacy between him and Anna Giruad. Anna Giruad sang the lead in many of his opera's (encyclopedia).
Anna was 16 or 17 years old when she met the 48 year old Vivaldi (Vivaldi Homepage). She and her sister Paoli na lived at Vivaldi's house supposedly nursing the ailing composer, whose health was declining (Antonio Vivaldi). They also accompanied him on many of his excursions to other parts of Europe. Obviously, this was not kindly regarded with the church seeing he was a priest. However, Anna probably was more of a pupil and close friend of Vivaldi. Anna was not regarded as a particularly strong singer or as a great beauty, though Carlo Goldoni described her as having beautiful hair and a nice figure (Antonio Vivaldi), but she had great stage presence and was a wonderful actress.
Antonio Vivaldi, once an esteemed and admired composer, maestro, and musician throughout Europe most of his life, fell out of the public s favor his last ten years of life. In 1740 Vivaldi left Venice and moved to Vienna where he tried to get an employment at the court, only to fail. Dying nearby the Kartnertor on July 28, 1741, Vivaldi was buried the same day in the hospital burial ground. Today the graveyard is gone (Antonio Vivaldi). As people s musical taste s leaned away from baroque and towards the classical period, Vivaldi s music was soon forgotten.
His name was barely mentioned for 200 years. In the mid 19 th century, researchers working on a new Bach edition discovered a manuscript in which was written, XII Concerti di Vivaldi (Vivaldi, Antonio, 408). Since then Antonio Vivaldi has only gained in popularity and interest and is regarded as one of the inspirational and prime composers of all time. Works Cited Antonio Vivaldi.
Updated May 7, 2000. October 5, 2000. Blom, Eric. Grove s Dictionary of Music and Musicians Vir-Z. Vol. IX.
New York: St. Martin s Press Inc. 1954. "Vivaldi, Antonio.' Britannica Micropedia. 1989 ed. , vol.
12, 407-408. Vivaldi Homepage. October 5, 2000.