Renowned Italian composer
Born on the 4th of March 1678 in Venice, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was the son of a professional violinist. Being taught the instrument by his father from a young age, Vivaldi’s dad was also responsible for connecting him with the best musicians and composers that 17th century Venice had to offer. Soon becoming a skilled violinist, it was only due to breathing problems that Vivaldi was unable to become as accomplished in the realm of wind instruments.
Not only a musician, Vivaldi would also devote himself to religion. Beginning his journey towards priesthood at the age of 15, he was ordained in 1703; however he was forced to abandon this path shortly afterwards due to poor health.
A staggeringly gifted musician, Antonio Vivaldi’s Baroque-style compositions were hugely innovative and massively influential.
Becoming master of violin at Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà, over the next 30 years, Vivaldi would give the world a large portion of his greatest works within this job. As a hospital dedicated to the education of orphans, many youngsters were trained as musicians, and the most gifted students would join up with Vivaldi’s orchestra. With the orchestra soon receiving international renown, Vivaldi would climb from master of violin to music director in 1716.
By 1715, he was a writer of operatic scores as well as concerti and choral music, and between 1717 and 1721 Vivaldi composed The Four Seasons in Mantua. This was his four-part magnum opus, presented alongside four sonnets which many believe to have also been written by Vivaldi. Gaining a host of admirers, including royalty, he would write the cantata Gloria e Imeneo for King Louis XV’s and even be knighted by Emperor Charles VI.
Sadly, even such high acclaim was not enough to support Vivaldi long-term throughout his life, and with the times changing musically as well as new talent arising, he decided to move from Vienna to Austria. It is believed that Vivaldi was looking for work at the court of Charles VI. However, in the wake of the monarch’s death, the composer found himself utterly without income. Passing away in poverty on the 28th of July 1741, Vivaldi’s funeral proceedings were modest and unremarkable.
However, Vivaldi would live on through his influence, and his works would even inspire the great Johann Sebastian Bach. Also, the 1900s would see a sizeable unearthing of Vivaldi’s previously lost compositions, and in 1939 the Vivaldi Week revival would be put together by the pianist and composer Alfredo Casella. With his choral work Gloria becoming a Christmastime favourite, Vivaldi’s music has been played all over the world since the Second World War and continues to uplift listeners to this day.
Did You Know?
During his time as a clergyman, Vivaldi’s red hair would earn him the nickname ‘il Prete Rosso’, translating as ‘The Red Priest’!
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