Antonio Vivaldi

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  2. January 3, 2013 8:06 pm

Antonio Vivaldi

Italian composer, Antonio Vivaldi, is one of the greatest and most well-known composers in music history. Venetian-born Vivaldi lived from March 4, 1678 to July 28, 1741, placing him squarely in the Baroque era, highlighted by richly ornamented musical lines.

Vivaldi initially became a priest, but soon devoted himself to musical composition. A virtuoso violinist, he was famous for his violin concerti, including his most recognized composition, “The Four Seasons.” He was employed as a teacher and composer at an orphanage in Venice where he wrote most of his violin concerti. He also wrote concerti for flute, oboe and bassoon, as well as vocal music for his students to sing.

Known as the “Red Priest” for his red hair, Vivaldi was also a prolific opera composer, delighting Venetian opera-goers. His opera works were a sideline at first, but the huge popularity of the opera propelled his career.

Although he was a favorite of the European royalty and employed in several courts, like many composers of his time, Vivaldi struggled financially and was completely dependent upon his noble benefactors for his livelihood. Upon the death of his benefactor, Charles VI, Vivaldi was left without a steady income. When Vivaldi died, his compositions were quickly forgotten for nearly 200 years. In the early 20th century, virtuoso violinist, Fritz Kreisler, revived the works of Vivaldi and since World War II, Vivaldi’s music has experienced world-wide acclaim.

Vivaldi was influential throughout his lifetime, and his music was noted for its vibrant and flamboyant style. He is also credited with developing the fast-slow-fast movement format of the classical sonata. J.S. Bach himself was influenced by Vivaldi’s music and transcribed many of his concerti for keyboard instruments.

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