Life and Music of Antonio Vivaldi
Written by: Steven C. Noah
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, nicknamed il Prete Rosso because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice, Italy on March 4th, 1678. He was ordained as a priest in 1703, celebrating mass for a year before claiming that he wished to do so no more on account of chest pains, presumed now to be angina pectoris, asthmatic bronchitis, or some sort of a nervous disorder resulting in panic attacks. He spent the majority of his life employed by the Ospedale della Pietà, generally accepted as being the best of the four Ospedali (while often referred to as orphanages, these Ospedali were in fact homes for the female offspring of noblemen and their numerous dalliances with their mistresses; therefore, they were well endowed by the anonymous fathers), and many of his concerti were indeed exercises which he would play with his many talented pupils. The brilliance of some solo writing in his student exercise concertos testifies to the extremely high standard attained by "his" ladies. Until 1709, Vivaldi's appointment was renewed every year and again after 1711. Between 1709 and 1711 Vivaldi was not attached to the Ospedale. Some speculate that in this period he was already working for the Teatro Sant' Angelo, an opera theater in Venice. He also remained active as a composer having twelve concertos published in Amsterdam by the music publisher Estienne Roger, perhaps the best-known, and almost certainly the best-organized printer/publisher of the baroque era and Vivaldi’s major publisher, under the title l'Estro armonico (Harmonic Inspiration). In 1713, Vivaldi was given leave for one month from the Ospedale della Pietà in order to stage his first opera, Ottone in villa, in Vicenza. In the 1713-1714 season, he was once again attached to the Teatro Sant' Angelo, where he produced an opera by the composer Giovanni Alberto Rostori (1692-1753). As far as...
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