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Antonio Vivaldi

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Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi was born on March 4th, 1678. He was born in Venice. Antonio was the eldest of his siblings. He and his father were very close. His father, Giovanni Vivaldi, was a baker. He was also a very talented violinist. At the time of Antonio's birth, he was the leading violinist of the famous St. Mark's Chapel in Venice. In 1969, Vivaldi was an additional violinist at St. Mark's. He was also learning to play the harpsichord at this time.

From 1693 until 1703, Vivaldi trained to become a priest. He was soon after given the nickname "Il Prete Rosso" or "The Red Priest." Vivaldi's family had a history of red hair. Only a year after becoming a priest, Vivaldi was given dispensation from celebrating the Holy Mass. He was complaining of strong physical pains in his chest. Doctors later found out that he suffered from angina pectoris, asmahmatic bronchitis (asthma) or a nevous disorder. According to one story, "it is possible that Vivaldi simulated illness. There are stories of him leaving the altar in the middle of mass to "jot down" musical thoughts." He had become a priest against his own will. In his day, priesthood was one of the only ways a poor family could receive free schooling.

Also in 1703, Vivaldi was appointed the position of "maestro di violino" for Pio Ospedale della Pieta. This was one of Venice's four institutions that took care of orphans and was known for its musical training of girls. This orphanage was a home for the daughters of nobleman whom had affairs with their mistresses. These orphanages were very well kept by these fathers. The ladies were looked-after very well. It had the highest musical standards in all of Venice. People from all over Venice came to see their events. Even the Venetian nobility came to watch. People all over the area knew of Vivaldi's chorus and orchestra. In 1709, the institution did not rehire Vivaldi. According to one source "probably in the name of economy, because the level of the older girls he had trained made his own services unnecessary." The Pio Ospedale della Pieta did not hire another violin teacher in his lifetime. Vivaldi wrote many concertos, cantatas, and sacred music for this group.

While working with the ladies, the first of his works, raccolta, was published in 1705. Vivaldi wanted more attention as a composer so he started writing sonatas. In 1705, he wrote Op. 1, which was a trio of sonatas. In 1709, he dedicated Op. 2, a violin sonata, to Frederick IV of Denmark. He had attended many of Vivaldi's services at the Pieta. While writing these sonatas, Antonio was also writing concertos in his spare time. These were being widely spread in manuscript.

In 1711, Vivaldi had a nice surprise. He was voted back into his position at the Pieta. He worked there for about five years, then was promoted to the position of "maestro di concerti." Also in 1711, Antonio met Estienne Roger. Roger was a publisher from Amsterdam. This is when Vivaldi made his move. Estienne published "L'estro harmonico," Op. 3, and 12 concertos that Vivaldi wrote for varying groups of violinist. This publication became the most influential

musical publication of its time. Meanwhile, Vivaldi occupied his free time working for the Teatro Sant' Angelo, a well known opera theater.

In Germany, this publication was so popular that Johann Sebastian Bach rewrote several of them for the keyboard. This shows that Vivaldi's works were very influential even on the Italian side of music. Vivaldi is considered one of the composers who helped the Boroque music to evolve into an impressionist style. Many believe that he also influenced the Romantic period as well. Most people loved Vivaldi, but Igor Stravinsky didn't. He stated that Vivaldi, "did not write hundreds of concertos, but rather just wrote one, over and over again."

Antonio now had his recognition as a composer. This isn't all he wanted though. In 1713, he took a month off from the orphanage so he could stage his first opera. He traveled to Vicenza to show Ottone in villa. After this success, he spent the next few years back at the Pieta producing operas. Toward the end of 1716 Vivaldi had his high point. The Pieta allowed Antonio to perform his first great oratorio. It was a description of the victory of the Venetians over the Turks in August 1716, called Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernis barbaric.

Shortly after performing his first oratorio, Vivaldi moved to Mantua. He accepted a job as Chamber Capellmeister at the court of Landgrave Philips van Hessen-Darmstadt. There he was paid to perform operas, cantatas, and concert music. He performed his opera, Armida, here and in 1719, Teuzzone and Tito Manlio were just as big of hits. In 1720, he performed La Conduce o siano Li veri amici in Mantua as well.

After only two years in Mantua, Vivaldi decided to go back to Venice. Once back in his home town, he produced many more operas that he wrote in the Teatro Sant' Angelo. Before leaving Mantua, Antonio had become acquaintances with



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