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ANTONIO VIVALDI

Born in Venice on March 4th, 1678, Vivaldi was employed for most of his working life by the
Ospedale della Piet. Often termed an "orphanage", this Ospedale was in fact a home for the
female offspring of noblemen and their numerous dalliances with their mistresses. The Ospedale
was thus well endowed by the "anonymous" fathers; its furnishings bordered on the opulent, the
young ladies were well looked-after, and the musical standards among the highest in Venice.
Most of Vivaldi's concerti were intended for performance with his many talented pupils. He was
also deeply involved with opera, both in composition and staging, mainly at Venice's Teatro
Sant' Angelo.
At the end of 1717 Vivaldi moved to Mantua for two years in order to take up his post as
Chamber Capellmeister at the court of Landgrave Philips van Hessen-Darmstadt. His task there
was to provide operas, cantatas, and perhaps concert music, too. Here he made the acquaintance
of the singer Anna Giraud (or Giro), who moved in to live with him, and they stayed together
until Vivaldi's death.
Vivaldi also wrote works on commission from foreign rulers, such as the French king, Louis XV
- the serenade La Sena festeggiante (Festival on the Seine), for example. This work cannot be
dated precisely, but it was certainly written after 1720. In Rome Vivaldi found a patron in the
person of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a great music lover, who earlier had been the patron of
Arcangelo Corelli. And if we can believe Vivaldi himself, the Pope asked him to come and play
the violin for him at a private audience.
Despite his stay in Rome and other cities, Vivaldi remained in the service of the Ospedale della
Piet, which nominated him "Maestro di concerti." He was required only to send two concertos
per month to Venice (transport costs were to the account of the client) for which he received a
ducat per concerto. His presence was never required. He also remained director of the Teatro
Sant' Angelo.
In 1725 the publication Il Cimento dell' Armenia e dell'invenzione (The trial of harmony and
invention), opus 8, appeared in Amsterdam. This consisted of twelve concertos, seven of which
were descriptive: The Four Seasons, Storm at Sea, Pleasure and The Hunt. Vivaldi transformed
the tradition of descriptive music into a typically Italian musical style with its unmistakable
timbre in which the strings play a major role.
These concertos were enormously successful, particularly in France. In the second half of the
18th century there even appeared some remarkable adaptations of the Spring concerto: Michel
Corrette (1709-1795) based his motet Laudate Dominum de coelis of 1765 on this concerto and,
in 1775, J ean-J acques Rousseau reworked it into a version for solo flute. "Spring" was also a
firm favorite of King Louis XV, who would order it to be performed at the most unexpected
moments, and Vivaldi received various commissions for further compositions from the court at
Versailles.
In 1738 Vivaldi was in Amsterdam where he conducted a festive opening concert for the 100th
Anniversary of the Schouwburg Theater. Returning to Venice, which was at that time suffering a
severe ec
under the
for he die
suffered
returned
THE F
1: Conce
Allegro /
2: Conce
Allegro n
3: Conce
Allegro (
4: Conce
Allegro n
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so it is na
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his Four
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phrases o
published
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another t
or subseq

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all his life) a
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FOUR S
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non molto - A
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SEASON
E Major, RV
egro (Pastor
g minor, RV
Allegro / Ada
F Major, RV
nce and Son
f minor, RV
Largo / Alleg
ses of music
omposers sh
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he moods of
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four sonnets
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rarely heard

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V 315, "SUM
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V 293, "AUT
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Spring Concerto in E Major
Allegro
"Giunt' la Primavera e festosetti
La Salutan gl' Augei con lieto canto,
E i fonti allo Spirar de' Zeffiretti
Con dolce mormorio Scorrono
intanto:
Vengon' coprendo l' aer di nero
amanto
E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti
Indi tacendo questi, gl' Augelletti;
Tornan' di nuovo al lor canoro
incanto:"
Largo
"E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante
Dorme 'l Caprar col fido can' lato."
Allegro
"Di pastoral Zampogna al suon
festante
Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto
amato
Di primavera all' apparir brillante."
Spring Concerto in E Major
Allegro
Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with
festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly
caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of
Spring, roar, casting their dark
mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and
the birds take up their charming
songs once more.

Largo
On the flower-strewn meadow, with
leafy branches rustling overhead, the
goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog
beside him.

Allegro
Led by the festive sound of rustic
bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds
lightly dance beneath the brilliant
canopy of spring.

Summer Concerto in g-minor
Allegro non molto
"Sotto dura Staggion dal Sole accesa
Langue l' huom, langue 'l gregge, ed
arde il Pino;
Scioglie il Cucco la Voce, e tosto
intesa
Canta la Tortorella e 'l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce Spira, m contesa
Muove Borea improviso al Suo
vicino;
Summer Concerto in g-minor
Allegro non molto
Beneath the blazing sun's relentless
heat
men and flocks are sweltering,
pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo's voice; then
sweet songs of the turtle dove and
finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air.but
threatening north wind sweeps them
E piange il Pastorel, perche sospesa
Teme fiera borasca, e 'l suo destino;"
Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
"Toglie alle membra lasse il Suo
riposo
Il timore de' Lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mossoni il Stuol
furioso!"
Presto
"Ah che pur troppo i Suo timor Son
veri
Tuona e fulmina il Ciel e grandioso
Tronca il capo alle Spiche e a' grani
alteri."
suddenly aside. The shepherd
trembles, fearful of violent storm and
what may lie ahead.

Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
His limbs are now awakened from
their repose by fear of lightning's
flash and thunder's roar, as gnats and
flies buzz furiously around.
Presto
Alas, his worst fears were justified,
as the heavens roar and great
hailstones beat down upon the
proudly standing corn.

Autumn Concerto in F Major
Allegro
"Celebra il Vilanel con balli e Canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere
E del liquor de Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col Sonno il lor godere"

Adagio molto
"F ch' ogn' uno tralasci e balli e
canti
L' aria che temperata d piacere,
E la Staggion ch' invita tanti e tanti
D' un dolcissimo Sonno al bel
godere."

Allegro
"I cacciator alla nov' alba caccia
Con corni, Schioppi, e canni escono
fuore
Fugge la belua, e Seguono la traccia;
Gi Sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
De' Schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, m oppressa
Autumn Concerto in F Major
Allegro
The peasant celebrates with song and
dance the harvest safely gathered in.
The cup of Bacchus flows freely, and
many find their relief in deep
slumber.

Adagio molto
The singing and the dancing die
away
as cooling breezes fan the pleasant
air,
inviting all to sleep
without a care.

Allegro
The hunters emerge at dawn,
ready for the chase,
with horns and dogs and cries.
Their quarry flees while they give
chase.
Terrified and wounded, the prey
muore." struggles on,
but, harried, dies.

Winter Concerto in f-minor
Allegro non molto
"Aggiacciato tremar tr neri algenti
Al Severo Spirar d' orrido Vento,
Correr battendo i piedi ogni
momento;
E pel Soverchio gel batter i denti;"

Largo
"Passar al foco i di quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben
cento"

Allegro
"Caminar Sopra 'l giaccio, e passo
lento
Per timor di cader gersene intenti;
Gir forte Sdruzziolar, cader terra
Di nuove ir Sopra 'l giaccio e correr
forte
Sin ch' il giaccio si rompe, e si
disserra;
Sentir uscir dalle ferrate porte
Sirocco Borea, e tutti i Venti in
guerra
Quest' 'l verno, m tal, che gioja
apporte."
Winter Concerto in f-minor
Allegro non molto
Shivering, frozen mid the frosty
snow in biting, stinging winds;
running to and fro to stamp one's icy
feet, teeth chattering in the bitter
chill.

Largo
To rest contentedly beside the hearth,
while those outside are drenched by
pouring rain.

Allegro
We tread the icy path slowly and
cautiously, for fear of tripping and
falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the
ground and, rising, hasten on across
the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds coarse
through the home despite the locked
and bolted doors
this is winter, which nonetheless
brings its own delights.