Antonio Vivaldi, 1678-1741

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Selected Recordings

Concertos, Concerto Italiano

La Serenissima

The Four Seasons

Selected Sheet Music

Gloria: VIII Domine Deus, Agnus Dei

domine deus

Source: CPDL.org

Showcase Piece

Concerto for 2 Violins and Strings in A minor, Op. 3, No. 8

Notes and Commentary

“Antonio Vivadi’s output was vast. He wrote some forty operas, a hundred or so major choral works, four hundred concertos, about twenty-five secular cantatas, seventy-three sonatas, and various other items. It is through his concertos that we know him best and revere him highly.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

“The greatest and most prolific writer of concertos.”—Claude Palisca, Baroque Music

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, nicknamed il Prete Rosso (“The Red Priest”) because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. He lived from March 4, 1678 to July 28, 1741.

Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.

Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi had been employed from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna.

Though Vivaldi’s music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers.

Books and Music

Selected Books

Vivaldi: Voice of the Baroque
University of Chicago Press, 1996
H. C. Robbins Landon
$11.77 on Amazon 

voice

“Short in length but long on scholarship, a “life and works” of the 18th-century Venetian master that belongs on the shelf of every serious music student. Robbins Landon, the distinguished musical archaeologist whose labors led to the rediscovery of much of Haydn’s lost or neglected music, has also turned his attention recently to Mozart (1791, etc.). He now skips back a generation to focus on the composer whose name has become synonymous with the Italian baroque–not wholly new territory, since Robbins Landon also coauthored Five Centuries of Music in Venice, but what prompted him to attempt a complete life of Vivaldi was the worldwide fascination with The Four Seasons. . . .”—Kirkus Reviews

Antonio Vivaldi: The Red Priest of Venice
Amadeus Press, 2003
Karl Heller
$25.60 on Amazon

red priest

“Partially revised from the original 1991 German-language version, this minutely detailed biographical and analytical study of Vivaldi’s life and works by Heller (historical musicology, Univ. of Rostock, Germany) is not easy to read. Inessential details abound, and the writing is plodding and pedantic. Vivaldi wrote an enormous amount of music, and the author attempts to say something about nearly all of it, perhaps one of the problems. Still, it is useful to have all the facts in one place.”—Library Journal

Antonio Vivaldi and the Baroque Tradition (Classical Composers)
Morgan Reynolds Publishing, 2004
Donna Getzinger and Daniel Felsenfeld
$28.95 on Amazon
tradition

Selected Music

seasons The Four Seasons (1994), 1 CD

concertos Eleven Concertos (1997), 1 CD

sacred The Complete Sacred Music (2005), 11-CD box set

Complete Works

Vivaldi’s works number in the hundreds. Access complete list.

Opus 1: 12 sonatas for two violins and basso continuo, 1705
Opus 2: 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo, 1709
Opus 3: L’estro Armonico (Harmonic Inspiration), 12 concertos for various combinations, of which the best known are No. 6 in A minor for violin, No. 8 in A minor for two violins and No. 10 in B minor for four violins, 1711
Opus 4: La stravaganza (The Extravagance), 12 violin concertos, c. 1714
Opus 5: Four sonatas for violin and two sonatas for two violins and basso continuo, 1716
Opus 6: Six violin concertos, 1716–1721
Opus 7: 12 concertos, two for oboe (No. 1 in B-flat major and No. 7 in B-flat minor) and 10 for violin, 1716–1717
Opus 8: Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest between Harmony and Invention), 12 violin concertos, which include the first four concertos known as Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons), 1723
Opus 9: La cetra (The Lyre), 12 violin concertos, all for solo violin except for No. 9 in B-flat major which is for two violins, 1727
Opus 10: Six flute concertos (a second version for recorder was printed in Venice), c. 1728
Opus 11: Five violin concertos, one oboe concerto, the second in E minor, RV 277, being known as Il favorito (The Favorite), 1729
Opus 12: Five violin concertos and one without solo

Access complete list.

Antonio Vivaldi Books and Music
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