Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was one of the major composers during the Baroque period. He was Italian, born In Venice. He Is recognized as one of the most influential composers of the time, and his Influence was widespread across Europe. Throughout his childhood he had health problems related to breathing. This kept him from playing wind instruments, however he learned how to play the violin. As a result of this, most of his compositions were made for string instruments.
At the age of 1 5, Vivaldi began studying to become a priest, and he was known as IL Prêt Ross or “The Red Priest” due to his red hair. After he was officially sworn into priesthood he was only able to carry out Mass a few times due to his poor health. At 25 years old Vivaldi started working at an orphanage, where he was recognized as the master of violin. He wrote concertos and sacred vocal music for them, and helped to greaten their appreciation of musical study. After he worked at the orphanage his music became more popular and he began to travel Europe composing opera.
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At first his compositions were not accepted as some of them were controversial but eventually the public approved and he was a major success. In 1718 Vivaldi was offered a position to work for the governor of Mantra as “Maestro did Capable. ” This position was prestigious, and during this time he wrote his four violin concertos called the Four Seasons. This piece is his most popular and renowned piece. Each concerto represents a different season, and they each depict different images that represent the seasons.
During this time he befriended a woman named Anna Girl who was his favorite student. It is believed that they may have had romantic relations even though Vivaldi claims that they had nothing more Han friendship_ Despite this, they still remained lifelong friends and she accompanied him on his travels with her older sister. At the climax of his career Vivaldi was receiving commissions from European nobility and royalty. After this however his music became less popular and he was struggling for money at the end of his career.
After landing a position as composer in the imperial court with Emperor Charles VI , the emperor died shortly after leaving Vivaldi with no means of income. At the age of 63 he became Impoverished and passed away. He was given a simple lower-class funeral that took place at SST. Stephens cathedral In Vienna. The piece I chose to study is Winter from Vivaldi Four Seasons. The piece was composed in 1723 while Vivaldi was working for the governor of Mantra. During the period of its composition, Europe was going through the stage in history known as the Enlightenment of Age of Reason.
People were emerging from their old ways, and becoming more knowledgeable In fields of science, reason, and respect for humanity. People began to question the way the universe works, and focus on scientific aspects of nature; questioning why things are the way they are rather than accepting the explanation that “God made them this way. ” Each concerto of the piece is a metaphor for the seasons. The Winter concerto depicts the harsh conditions of the winter season, and the iciness of the weather. The notes that are played in this piece are high pitched and screechy sounding.
The piece was written for string Instruments and It begins with a group of strings playing staccato notes and plucking note is eerie and sounds displaced. The strings gradually crescendo as if whatever is approaching is getting closer. The tempo then rapidly changes and a series of high- itched staccato notes are played. This part of the piece has a stormy quality, as if there was a sudden downfall of snow or ice. The piece is not relaxing, it gives the image of something much more tumultuous, perhaps a harsh snow or ice storm.
During this part of the piece I pictured people running through the snow trying to seek cover. The piece then slows down and goes back to its original plucking of the notes. I believe that this is done to separate two different winter scenes. The second winter scene is much calmer. The notes are played much lighter and with less harsh emphasis. There is a calming melody played legato during this part that repeats three times, and then all of the sudden the piece goes back to short staccato notes that gradually get louder.
The piece then goes back to its original melody that sounded harsh and was played very fast. This surprised me because I thought that Vivaldi was trying to depict a calm winter scene such as snow falling softly or somebody calmly ice-skating. However, the rapid change shows that calmness in the wintertime is short lived, and it is only a matter of time before the storm returns. Perhaps in this part of the piece the person was experiencing the “eye of the storm” where the weather becomes calm for a little bit but the storm is about to return, as it does in the piece.
There is a short pause in the piece and it resumes with a series of drawn out legato notes that play a calm and relaxing melody. The melody is accompanied by a series of plucking strings in the background that keep a steady rhythm. This part of the piece is happier and sounds like something that would be played around the holidays. Maybe Vivaldi was trying to capture the holiday spirit in his part of the piece since the holidays take place during the winter. During this part I did not picture an outdoor scene, but rather something indoors such as sitting by a fire and keeping warm.
This part of the piece is short however, and after a slight pause the piece picks up again and get much faster and louder. The melody changes and sounds much more displaced and “off’. The notes sound like they are something from a horror movie. The beginning of each individual note is also much more emphasized, causing the melody to sound harsh. The notes are played in steps and s they ascend they get louder. There are also some leaps in this part of the piece, and when the leaps occur the volume goes in the same direction of the leap.
I noticed that I was able to hear each individual instrument during the parts of the piece that were supposed to be less calm and harsher sounding. I believe that the differentiation between each instrumental line of music creates a sound that is “wrong” or “off’. As opposed to when the melody was calmer and happier sounding, the instruments seemed to harmonize and mesh together more creating one single mound and melodic idea. I prefer the music when it sounds displaced, it is much more interesting.
The parts that represent the “stormy weather” of winter have more surprises, and the naturally unappealing sound the music has makes it exciting. The end of the piece starts off slower and the listener thinks that the melody is going to stay calm and happy as if winter is over and the snow is melting. But Vivaldi surprises us again. The winter is in fact not over and in the middle of the slow melody that sounds uplifting and Joyous, the strings all of the sudden start playing hey are vibrating. This is a perfect example of when one thinks that winter is over and then all of the sudden they are hit with a huge snowstorm out of nowhere.
I could almost feel my heart skip a beat at this moment I was very surprised when this happened. It is amazing that Vivaldi still evokes the same reaction today that he did En the piece was first performed. While researching different reviews and critiques I found that many of the opinions were the same as mine. Almost everyone compared the piece to the harsh storms of winter, and sitting by a fire. One review hat was different from mine was someone who said that they pictured the entire Inter concerto taking place inside.
They believed that the rapid changes in the song Nerve occurring within the mind of the person sitting inside, directly depicting his moods and feelings about the wintertime. I took a more literal approach whilst listening to this piece. I instead pictured the outdoor scene itself, rather than somebody feelings about it. Another review I found was written by a teen, and they claimed that they felt that the Winter concerto was longer than the other seasons. They claimed that Vivaldi did this to convey that winter often feels like the longest season.