Almost everyone has heard of The Four Seasons, a series of violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi.
But who was the man behind them?
In this series, we’re discovering the lives of the best composers in Western music history and why their work matters to us today.
This is Antonio’s story.
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi
A prolific and creative composer who had a large part in shaping the late Baroque style of instrumental music.
He was especially well known for his operas and concertos, the most famous of which are The Four Seasons.
Vivaldi was also a virtuoso violinist.
March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741.
Vivaldi lived during the late Baroque period.
He was a contemporary of Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, and George Frideric Handel.
Antonio was born in Venice and grew up there, eventually becoming on ordained priest in the city.
He traveled often throughout Europe, eventually making it to the Austrian capital of Vienna, where he died.
Why It Matters
Vivaldi was perhaps the best composer that Baroque Italy ever produced. He was an innovative master of both choral and instrumental works.
He excelled in many genres, and he wrote over five hundred concertos! His music is known for being bright, quick, and spirited.
He also had a significant influence on other composers, including Joseph Haydn and J.S. Bach.
Bach tried to emulate many of Vivaldi’s violin techniques in his keyboard music.
Other Interesting Facts
There was a severe earthquake in Venice on the day Antonio was born.
His father Giovanni was an exceptional violinist. He was the boy’s first teacher.
Antonio was a priest, but he did not administer the Mass due to a health exception (it is believed that he suffered from asthma, which made public speaking difficult).
He earned the nickname “The Red Priest” because of his red hair.
He spent thirty years as a leader at Ospedale della Pieta, a music school for orphaned girls. He composed many works for the Ospedale’s orchestra.
Vivaldi published The Four Seasons with their corresponding narratives. This was an unusual practice at the time.
Sadly, Vivaldi’s popularity did not last until the end of his life. New musical styles emerged and his work fell out of fashion. He died very poor.
Below is a recording of Vivaldi’s “Storm”, the third movement of Summer from The Four Seasons:
And that is the story of Antonio Vivaldi. What do you think of him? Leave a comment below!
Other Composers Featured in This Series:
J.S. Bach, George F. Handel, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Clara Schumann, Erik Satie, Scott Joplin, Lili Boulanger, Dmitri Shostakovich