Antonio Vivaldi in Venice

Portrait of Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
If there's one music that can reveal all the magic of Venice, it's the music of Antonio Vivaldi, rich and bursting with life, power and joy too.

The Red Priest

Known as the Red Priest because of the colour of his hair, Vivaldi, as the nickname suggests was a priest, just like Claudio Monteverdi, who became one during his lifetime and is the other "great" musician of Venice.

Sublimated and... forgotten!

Vivaldi was born in Venice on 4 March 1678 and died in Vienna in 1741.

He had also been artistic director of the conservatory of Santa Maria della Pieta, on the Riva degli Schiavoni, at number 4148 in the District of Castello, and his music still enchants us just as much, more than three centuries after its composition.

But if Vivaldi is the genius now recognised throughout the world, one of Venice's finest ambassadors, his music had completely disappeared until 1933, when Olga Rudge, helped by Ezra Pound, would enable the rebirth of this “winged” music.

Antonio Vivaldi by François Morellon de la Cave in 1725
Antonio Vivaldi

450 Concerts

And the work of resurrection was no mean feat: Vivaldi composed over 450 concerts, the most famous of which, “The 4 Seasons”, is a must-listen in one of the scuole in Venice, magical evenings in the midst of musicians in period costume and in a Venetian palace.

It was at the Ospedali of La Pieta in Venice that Vivaldi spent most of his musical life, serving in turn as violinist and concert master from 1703 to 1740, a year before his death.

A Honey of Notes

Marc Alyn in his fine book “The Pedestrian of Venice” speaks of this religious place in these terms:

“A violin tune escapes from the church of the Pietà, an ecstatic hive where Vivaldi made his honey of notes”.
Marc Alyn

It should be noted, however, that the current church of the Pietà is not the one in which Vivaldi lived. The previous church was demolished and completely rebuilt after Antonio Vivaldi's death.

Vivaldi knew how to embrace nature with a look, with a musical breath, coating the beauty of nature with a bewitching magic.

To do this, he created, with Haendel and Bach, the three-movement concerto.

Symphony and Harmony

Ange Goudard has other superb words to describe the four seasons:

“Of all the overtures I have heard," he writes, "I find only one named Venetian Vivaldi, who has said anything in symphony. Manuscript score by Antonio Vivaldi, aria Allegro for viola
Manuscript score by Antonio Vivaldi
He set the four seasons of the year in a great violin concerto.

In his Spring, we feel nature reborn, and with it all the animals that breathe and rejoice at the sound of the violin.

His Summer is made up of fertile music that heralds an abundant harvest.

In his Autumn, he makes the leaves fall from the trees, to put it another way, with the stroke of his bow.

In Winter his audience shivers, he freezes to death.

These are the true principles of instrumental harmony that any subject should render”.
Ange Goudard

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