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Definition: Vivaldi, Antonio from Philip's Encyclopedia

Italian composer. A master of the concerto and a virtuoso violinist, Vivaldi helped to standardize the three-movement concerto form and to develop the concerto grosso (a concerto for two or more solo instruments). His best-known work is The Four Seasons (1725). He also composed sacred vocal music and c.50 operas, of which 20 survive.

Summary Article: Vivaldi, Antonio Lucio
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Italian Baroque composer, violinist, and conductor. One of the most prolific composers of his day, he was particularly influential through his concertos, several of which were transcribed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote 23 symphonies; 75 sonatas; over 400 concertos, including The Four Seasons (1725) for violin and orchestra; over 40 operas; and much sacred music. His work was largely neglected until the 1930s.

Vivaldi was born at Venice. He was taught by his father Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, a violinist at St Mark's Cathedral, and possibly also by the composer Giovanni Legrenzi. He entered the church in 1693 and was ordained priest in 1703 (being commonly known as il prete rosso, ‘the red [-haired] priest’). Later he came into conflict with church authorities for keeping a mistress. He was associated 1703–40 with a girls' orphanage, the Conservatorio dell' Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, for which he wrote oratorios and instrumental music, even sending manuscripts by post during his frequent absences. His first opera, Ottone in Villa was produced in Vicenza in 1713, and was followed by many others in Venice, Florence, Munich, Parma, and Milan. He was in Mantua in 1720–23 as maestro di cappella da camera to the Margrave Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, wrote The Four Seasons about 1725, and toured Europe in 1729–33, but little is known of his extensive travels throughout his career. He returned to Venice in 1739, but his popularity was declining, and two years later he died in poverty in Vienna. Vivaldi's real importance lies in some 450 concertos for various solo instruments and combinations of instruments, the majority being of the violin family, but also woodwind and rare instruments such as the piccolo, viola d'amore, and mandolin; he also wrote 73 sonatas for one and two violins and for cello.

WorksOpera about 21 extant, including Tito Manlio (1720), Ercole (1723), Orlando furioso (1727); Latin oratorio Juditha Triumphans and others.

Sacred vocal including Gloria (two settings), Salve regina (3), Stabat mater.

Instrumental over 230 violin concertos (including The Four Seasons (1725), nos. 1–4 of Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'invenzione, Op. 8), about 120 solo concertos (for bassoon, cello, oboe, flute, oboe d'amore, recorder, and mandolin), over 40 double concertos (about 24 for violins, three for two oboes), over 30 ensemble concertos (instruments included clarinets, horns, theorbos, and timpani), nearly 60 string orchestra concertos (without soloists), and over 20 concertos for solo ensemble (without string ripieno, ‘full complement’); about 90 solo and trio sonatas.


Music Through Time: Baroque music


Vivaldi, Antonio Concerto Grosso, beginning

Vivaldi, Antonio Concerto Grosso, slow movement

Vivaldi, Antonio Four Seasons, First Movement

Vivaldi, Antonio Four Seasons, Winter

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