Antonio Vivaldi: 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.

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