Antonio Vivaldi

Nicholas Lockey

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Antonio Vivaldi

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Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678–d. 1741) was a prolific composer and celebrated violinist whose reputation and stylistic influence spread across Europe, particularly during the 1710s and 1720s. The son of a barber-turned-violinist, Vivaldi trained as a secular priest but spent the majority of his career in several roles, including musical performer, composer, teacher, and impresario. Vivaldi’s greatest success and influence probably came in the period 1711–1725, during which time his widely performed L’estro armonico concertos Op. 3 (published 1711) and Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione concertos Op. 8 (published 1725 and containing Le quattro stagioni, “The Four Seasons”) were published and his works were being performed on operatic stages in Venice, Rome, Mantua, and elsewhere. Changing tastes, likely triggered by the success of the operas of Vinci, Hasse, Porpora, and others, combined with the relative stability of Vivaldi’s style, eventually led to declining interest in Vivaldi’s music within Venetian circles. Despite a few years at court in Mantua and travels to Rome and central European lands for operatic projects, Vivaldi was primarily based in Venice for most of his known life. The continuing interest in his music in French- and German-speaking lands during the 1730s and 1740s probably motivated his move to Vienna in 1741, but his arrival there was followed too shortly by his death for us to know whether he might have gained a more lucrative reception away from Italian lands. Recent research has found that in the decades following his death, Vivaldi’s reputation and music were not forgotten as completely as is often thought. Nevertheless, posthumous interest in Vivaldi’s life and music has tended to come in waves. In 1978, the three-hundredth anniversary of his birth saw the beginning of one such intense period of scholarship, performances, and recordings. As a result of this multistage revival, the scholarly literature is very diverse and major studies have often emerged in piecemeal fashion, only gradually countering popular misperceptions of Vivaldi’s life and works, such as the notion (inspired by a comment by Dallapiccola, echoed by Stravinsky) that his works are largely indistinguishable from one another, or the popular image of Vivaldi as the equivalent of a classroom music teacher and surrogate father-figure for orphaned school-age girls.

Article.  10184 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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