Vivaldi was a baroque composer

Vivaldi, Antonio - One of the most popular baroque composers

Antonio Vivaldi - One of the most popular baroque composers

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice on March 4, 1678, the son of the violinist Giovanni Batista Vivaldi, one of the best Venetian violin virtuosos, and his wife Camila. Two days later he was baptized in the San Giovanni church in Bragora. His musical education began at San Marco, where his father worked as a church violinist, who then gave his son his first knowledge. Later on, Giovanni Lenzei took on his further musical training.

Vivaldi got to know the diverse musical life of Venice from an early age - from the magnificent church music to the rich operas to the public conservatory concerts. These three areas should also acquire decisive importance in his further life and work.

Vivaldi was ordained a Catholic priest on March 23, 1703, but was attacked throughout his life by critics who criticized his negligent lifestyle or criticized his lack of commitment to church music. For six months he reads from the pulpit in the Church of San Giovanni Mass in Oleo, but was already exempted from it a year later because of a congenital bronchial or heart condition and was from then on a secular priest. Released from numerous obligations, Vivaldi could now fully devote himself to his great passion - music. He also composed church music, trisonatas, operas, oratorios, especially concerts for violins and orchestra or other concerts for solo instruments.

In 1709 Vivaldi took over as Maestro di Concerto the management of the orchestra of Pietà, where he had been working as a conductor and violin teacher since autumn 1703.

Venice was still a magnet for music lovers from all over Europe. The nobility had their own opera houses; musical events were financed by private individuals and academies, and church concerts with sacred music were the order of the day.

One of the most famous music centers in Venice also included a major music school for girls: the Conservatorio dell ’Ospedale della Pietà.

The Ospedale della Pietà was a home for foundlings, and exclusively for girls. The gifted residents of the home received extensive musical training. At that time women (except in nunneries) were excluded from musical activities in worship. Due to a papal privilege, the musicians of the Pietà in their house church, however, protected by a grid, appear before a mixed congregation.

This privilege applied except for that Ospedale della Pietà also for three other, comparable institutions in Venice. As a unique Venetian establishment, the four had ospedali a high reputation and a correspondingly high volume of donations, but --- not least because of the competition between the ospedali --- also depended on their musical performance.

From around 1713 onwards, his solo concerts were basically composed of three movements in the tempo sequence Allegro-Adagio-Allegro, and found within the movements, especially the corner movements, the expression of the ritornello form.

Vivaldi soon became known in Italy and other countries. He enjoyed high recognition in Vienna, Johann Georg Pisendel carried the fame of his teacher to Dresden, where he performed Vivaldi's works, and Vivaldi himself composed for the Dresden court. He also wrote operas and worked as an impresario himself, but always remained a teacher at the Ospedale Conservatory. In 1716 he received Vivaldi the position of concert master there, so that the concerts and his own virtuoso performances as a violinist were again in the focus of public interest.

However, the fact that a former student accompanied him on these trips got Vivaldi into trouble with his superiors. The letter of justification he wrote in connection with this is the only autobiographical testimony that we have of him today.

After 1720 Vivaldi made numerous trips, for example to Vienna and Amsterdam. He received honors and high-value composition commissions. So he wrote for the wedding of Louis XV. in Versailles Gloria, had a lively exchange of ideas with the musically educated Emperor Charles VI. in Vienna, came to Bohemia and lived there with Count Morzin, to whom he gave his Concerts, Op. 8 (including No. 1 to 4 The four Seasons) dedicated.

Vivaldi wrote other works for Dresden and Venice and finally worked again at the Ospedale. But there his person increased. Highest ecclesiastical dignitaries reproached him for writing operas but not reading masses, being friends with a prima donna, but not caring about religion. Showered with high honors abroad, Vivaldi went on trips again, most recently to Vienna. Vivaldi died on July 28, 1741 during this stay and was buried on the same day in the Spittaler Gottesacker.

In addition to hundreds of instrumental concerts and a large number of sacred works (many of which were only discovered in this century), Vivaldi wrote more than 40 operas. His works made him known far beyond the borders of Italy and influenced Johann Sebastian Bach, among others. For a long time he had the reputation of being a skilled, prolific writer, whose main merit, in addition to the development of violin technique, was the training of the concert form concerto grosso would have been. It was not until the 1950s that he was recognized as one of the great composers of the Baroque era.

The Gloria in D major RV 589

Vivaldi does not have a complete setting of the Ordinarium, not even a "complete mass" in the Italian sense, i.e. consisting of Kyrie, Gloria and Creed. A setting of the Gloria, which Louis XV of France commissioned Vivaldi in 1725, has unfortunately also been lost.

Two Gloria - Scoring, both in D major, has been preserved. In the Ryom directory they have the numbers 588 and 589. Because of the overwhelming similarities between the two works, one can assume that the Gloria RV 589, which is performed in the concerts, a decidedly radical adaptation of the little-known (and only edited in 1990) Gloria RV 588 represents. One of the two Glorias was perhaps part of a "complete mass" that was on the list of works in 1715 for which Vivaldi received a gratuity of 50 ducats from the Pietà received.

It is considered certain that both Glorias for choir and orchestra of Ospedale della Pietà were written. Hence the astonishing fact that tenor and bass were sung exclusively by women at the premiere. In fact, the tenor is almost always within the normal range of an alto. The bass part is (as such) nowhere really deep, but it is still an extreme challenge even for a contra-alto; this required real bassists. Although there were a few female soloists in this vocal subject at the time, it seems reasonable to assume that the lower passages were at least occasionally sung an octave higher than noted.

Catalog raisonné

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