You are on page 1of 5


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
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
1: Conce
Allegro /
2: Conce
Allegro n
3: Conce
Allegro (
4: Conce
Allegro n
One of th
so it is na
Music re
the fours
his Four
As a desc
himself. E
phrases o
musical p
the first f
another t
or subseq

conomic dow
e patronage o
ed on J uly 2
all his life) a
to Venice, w
erto No.1 in E
/ Largo / Alle
erto No.2 in g
non molto - A
erto No.3 in F
(Peasant Dan
erto No.4 in f
non molto / L
he earliest us
atural that co
music writt
presenting th
rs such as W
seasons. Bu
Seasons con
criptive basi
Each of the
or ideas, refl
d scores (by
passages are
few hearings
o an extent r
wnturn, he re
of his admire
8th 1741 "of
and, like Mo
where she die
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
ten to portray
he moods of
Werner and F
ut none were
s for his Fou
four sonnets
ected in the
Estienne Ro
s, to follow t
rarely heard

esigned from
er Charles V
f internal fire
ozart fifty ye
ed in 1750.
V 269, "SPR
rale dance)
V 315, "SUM
agio Prest
V 293, "AUT
ng) / Adagio
297, "WINT
was in the a
ould from tim
y events, act
f the four sea
Fischer amon
e to do so in
ur Seasons, V
s is expresse
three movem
oger of Amst
ive of which
the sonnets a
in any other
m the Ospeda
VI. His stay i
e" (probably
ars later, rec
to Adagio /
molto (Sleep
me to time p
tivities or mo
asons has alw
ng others pro
such precise
Vivaldi took
d in a conce
ments (fast-s
terdam in 17
h verses of th
and music to
r programma
ale in 1740, p
in Vienna wa
y the asthmat
ceived a mod
/ Presto (Sum
ping Drunka
ment of theatr
produce wha
oods such as
ways been p
oduced cycle
e pictorial de
k four Sonnet
erto, which in
slow-fast) of
725) are mar
he sonnet. It
ogether, for t
atic pieces ei
planning to m
as to be shor
tic bronchiti
dest burial. A
mmer Storm)
ards) / Allegr
rical dance a
at we know a
s pastoral sce
opular, and
es of concert
etail as Anto
ts, apparentl
n turn is divi
f each conce
rked to indic
is advisable
they are boun
ither of the b
move to Vie
rtlived howe
is from whic
Anna Giraud
ro (The Hun
and story-tel
as "program
enes or storm
tos represent
onio Vivaldi
ly written by
ided into thr
rto. The
cate which
e, at least dur
nd up with o
baroque peri
ch he

Spring Concerto in E Major
"Giunt' la Primavera e festosetti
La Salutan gl' Augei con lieto canto,
E i fonti allo Spirar de' Zeffiretti
Con dolce mormorio Scorrono
Vengon' coprendo l' aer di nero
E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti
Indi tacendo questi, gl' Augelletti;
Tornan' di nuovo al lor canoro
"E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante
Dorme 'l Caprar col fido can' lato."
"Di pastoral Zampogna al suon
Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto
Di primavera all' apparir brillante."
Spring Concerto in E Major
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.

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

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
Canta la Tortorella e 'l gardelino.
Zeffiro dolce Spira, m contesa
Muove Borea improviso al Suo
Summer Concerto in g-minor
Allegro non molto
Beneath the blazing sun's relentless
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
Il timore de' Lampi, e tuoni fieri
E de mosche, e mossoni il Stuol
"Ah che pur troppo i Suo timor Son
Tuona e fulmina il Ciel e grandioso
Tronca il capo alle Spiche e a' grani
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.
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
"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
L' aria che temperata d piacere,
E la Staggion ch' invita tanti e tanti
D' un dolcissimo Sonno al bel

"I cacciator alla nov' alba caccia
Con corni, Schioppi, e canni escono
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
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

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

The hunters emerge at dawn,
ready for the chase,
with horns and dogs and cries.
Their quarry flees while they give
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
E pel Soverchio gel batter i denti;"

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

"Caminar Sopra 'l giaccio, e passo
Per timor di cader gersene intenti;
Gir forte Sdruzziolar, cader terra
Di nuove ir Sopra 'l giaccio e correr
Sin ch' il giaccio si rompe, e si
Sentir uscir dalle ferrate porte
Sirocco Borea, e tutti i Venti in
Quest' 'l verno, m tal, che gioja
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

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

We tread the icy path slowly and
cautiously, for fear of tripping and
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.