Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque period, as well as being a priest and teacher. He influenced many composers with his innovative use of Baroque music.
Vivaldi wrote over five hundred concerto’s (almost half of these were for the violin) and 46 operas.
His father Giovanni Battista Vivaldi was originally a barber and later in 1685 became violinist to the San Marco Basilica in Venice. Giovanni was Antonio’s primary teacher and the two of them toured Venice together.
Vivaldi was the eldest child (of six children), hence studying to be a priest. At the age of twenty-five he was ordained. His distinguishable curly red hair earned him the nickname of il Pretto Rosso (The Red Priest). Soon after obtaining his ordination, he received an exemption probably due to his health. The illness made it difficult for him to speak due to his chest.
In 1703 Vivaldi went to work at an orphanage for girls called Pio Ospedale della Pietà. He worked there for thirty-seven years as a composer, teacher and conductor.
Vivaldi was acquainted with royalty and often commissioned to compose for special occasions. The French ambassador to Venice commissioned Vivaldi to compose the cantata Gloria e Imeneo (RV687) to celebrate the wedding of Louis XV.
-La Sena festeggiante (RV694) was commissioned by the French Embassy to celebrate the birth of the French royal princesses.
-He dedicated Opus 9, La Cetra to Emperor Charles IV who gave Vivaldi the title of Knight, a gold medal, and an invitation to Vienna.
-Vivaldi is most famous for his incredible Four Seasons. Here is a beautiful version of Part 1, Spring:
Did you Know?
-After his birth Vivaldi was immediately baptised, it is thought that this was due to an earthquake that took place in Venice that day or his ill health.
-His asthma didn’t affect his violin playing but did prevent him from ever playing wind instruments.
-Vivaldi’s music influenced Johann Sebastian Bach.
Despite his incredible successes, Vivaldi’s career declined in his later years as people’s tastes moved on and his music was no longer fashionable. He sold off his manuscripts way under their market value to finance a trip to Vienna, to see Emporer Charles VI. Unfortunately, his last royal connection had sadly died.
In 1741 Vivaldi fell ill and died aged sixty-three. He had a very simple funeral sadly without any music suggesting he died in poverty.
Further Reading & Musical Downloads
On music-scores.com we have almost one hundred downloads for you of Antonio Vivaldi Sheet Music.