Antonio Vivaldi

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Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest"), was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and 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 40 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, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children where Vivaldi worked between 1703 and 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, and the composer died a pauper, without a steady source of income.

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 Baroque composers.

Contents

Childhood

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice, the capital of the Republic of Venice in 1678. He was baptized immediately after his birth at his home by the midwife, which led to the belief that his life was somehow in danger. Though not known for certain, the immediate baptism was most likely due either to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. In the trauma of the earthquake, Vivaldi's mother may have dedicated him to the priesthood.[1] Vivaldi's official church baptism (the rites that remained other than the baptism itself) did not take place until two months later.[2]

Vivaldi's parents were Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, as recorded in the register of San Giovanni in Bragora.[3] Vivaldi had five siblings: Margarita Gabriela, Cecilia Maria, Bonaventura Tomaso, Zanetta Anna, and Francesco Gaetano.[4] Giovanni Battista, a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin, and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. He probably taught him at an early age, judging by Vivaldi's extensive musical knowledge at the age of 24 when he started working at the Ospedale della Pietà.[5] Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, an association of musicians.[6] The president of the Sovvegno was Giovanni Legrenzi, a composer of the early Baroque and maestro di cappella at St. Mark's Basilica. It is possible that Legrenzi gave the young Antonio his first lessons in composition. The Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder has discerned in the early liturgical work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31, written in 1691 at the age of 13) the influence of Legrenzi's style. Vivaldi's father may have been a composer himself: in 1689, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi, and this was the name under which Vivaldi's father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia:[7] "Rosso" is Italian for "Red", and would have referred to the colour of his hair, a family trait.

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