More Vivaldi

TUESDAY, December 24, 2019

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741)…

(The Gloria by Vivaldi, in 12 parts, is truly an astounding creation, and the recording by Gardiner is first rate. So try listening to this while reading about Vivaldi.)

Born in Venice…

Venice was then the capital of the Venetian Republic. Vivaldi was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife who delivered him. Though the reasons for his immediate baptism are not known for certain, it was done possibly either due to his assumed poor health or because of an earthquake that shook the city that day.

The Red Priest…

Vivaldi’s mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood from an early age. At the age of 15 he began studying to become a priest. He was ordained in 1703. His career in the clergy was short-lived. He was known locally for his flaming red hair, so he known locally as “il Prete Rosso,” (“the Red Priest”.)

He worked in school for young girls…

This is a complicated story. Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for young girls who were officially orphans. Vivaldi was employed as a teacher from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. The girls received a musical education, and the most talented among them stayed and became members of the Ospedale’s renowned orchestra and choir. Shortly after Vivaldi’s appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem abroad, too.

(There were four similar institutions in Venice, some for girls, some for boys; their purpose was to take care of children who were abandoned or orphaned. They were publicly financed. The boys learned a trade and had to leave by age 15.)

Vivaldi had breathing problems…

Due to chronic shortness of breath, he was unable to play wind instruments – he may have had ashma. Health problems prevented him from delivering mass while he was officially a priest. It sounds to me as though he was looking for an excuse to compose!

His father was a barber…

Giovanni Battista, who was a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. Antonio was yet another young child whose talent was exploited by a father. He became  great violinist as well as a great composer.

Link to JS Bach…

Johann Sebastian Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi’s concertos and arias. He transcribed six of Vivaldi’s concertos, and his musical support through this means was helpful in keeping the memory of Vivaldi alive during years when his music was neglected.

Famous at first, but later almost forgotten…

During his lifetime, Vivaldi was popular in many countries throughout Europe, but after his death his popularity fell to close to zero. Most of his music became almost ignored, including The Four Seasons.

As he got older, tastes changed, and Vivaldi was not careful with his money, so he died dead broke. He was buried in a simple grave in a cemetery, paid for by some kind public fund. In other words, he went from from fame to nearly obscurity within his own lifetime.

Resurgence after WWII….

Since World War II, Vivaldi’s compositions have reversed in popularity and are now more popular than ever before world-wide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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