Antonio Vivaldi 8

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Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice, the capital of the Republic of Venice. He was baptized immediately at his home by the midwife. It is not known how the life of the infant was in danger, but the immediate baptism was most likely due to his poor health or to an earthquake that shook the city that day. Vivaldi's official church baptism (at least, the rites that remained other than the actual baptism itself) did not take place until two months later. His father, Giovanni Battista, a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught him to play violin and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son. Giovanni Battista was one of the founders of the Sovvegno dei musicisti di Santa Cecilia, a sort of trade union for musicians and composers. The president of the association was Giovanni Legrenzi, the maestro di cappella at St. Mark's Basilica and noted early Baroque composer. It is possible that the young Antonio's first lessons in composition were imparted by him. The Luxembourg scholar Walter Kolneder sees in the early liturgical work Laetatus sum (RV Anh 31, written in 1691 at the age of 13) the influence of Legrenzi's style. His father may have been a composer himself: in 1688, an opera titled La Fedeltà sfortunata was composed by a Giovanni Battista Rossi, and this was the name under which Vivaldi's father had joined the Sovvegno di Santa Cecilia ("Rossi" for "Red", because of the colour of his hair, a family trait).

Vivaldi had a medical problem that he called the tightening of the chest (probably some form of asthma). His medical problem, however, did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing, or taking part in many musical activities. However, he could not play wind instruments due to his lack of breath. At the age of 15 in the year of 1693, he began studying to become a priest. In 1703, at the age of 25, Vivaldi was ordained a priest and was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest", probably because of his red hair.

Not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a reprieve from celebrating the Holy Mass because of his ill health. From that point onward, he appears to have withdrawn from active practice, but did remain a priest. Style and influence

Many of Vivaldi's compositions reflect a flamboyant, almost playful, exuberance. Most of Vivaldi's repertoire was rediscovered only in the first half of the 20th century in Turin and Genoa and was published in the second half. Vivaldi's music is innovative, breaking a consolidated tradition in schemes; he gave brightness to the formal and the rhythmic structure of the concerto, repeatedly looking for harmonic contrasts and innovative melodies and themes. Moreover, Vivaldi was able to compose nonacademic music, particularly meant to be appreciated by the wide public and not only by an intellectual minority. The joyful appearance of his music reveals in this regard a transmissible joy of composing; these are among the causes of the vast popularity of his music. This popularity soon made him famous in other countries such as France which was, at the time, very independent concerning its musical taste.

Vivaldi is considered one of the composers who brought Baroque music (with its typical contrast among heavy sonorities) to evolve into a classical style. Johann Sebastian Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias (recalled in his Johannes Passion, Matthäuspassion, and cantatas). Bach transcribed a number of Vivaldi's concerti for solo keyboard, along with a number for orchestra, including the famous Concerto for Four Violins and Violoncello, Strings and Continuo (RV 580).

[edit] Posthumous reputation
Vivaldi remained unknown for his published concerti, and largely ignored, even after the resurgence of interest in Bach, pioneered by Mendelssohn. Even his most famous work, The Four Seasons, was unknown in its original edition. In the early 20th century, Fritz Kreisler's concerto in the style of...
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