Antonio Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678, in Venice. He became an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist. Nowadays, he is considered to be one of the greatest Baroque composers. During his lifetime, his influence had spread widely over Europe. He is, perhaps, most famous for his “Four Seasons,” series of violin concertos.
Antonio Vivaldi’s father was Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, a professional violinist who decided to teach his young son to play as well. With the help of his father, the composer was able to meet some of the finest musicians and composers in Venice at that time. His violin skills flourished and he became a virtuoso. However, a chronic shortness of breath kept him from mastering wind instruments.
At the age of 15, the future composer started his training to become a priest. He was ordained in 1703. Because of his red hair, the was nicknamed “il Prete Rosso,” or “the Red Priest.” Unfortunately, because of his health issues, his did not remain a clergyman for long. He had to abandon priesthood shortly after his ordination.
Antonio Vivaldi became master of violin at the Ospedale della Pietà when he was 25 years old. It was from this position that he composed most of his major works during the following three decades. His most successful operatic works were La constanza trionfante and Farnace which were performed multiple times during his life. While living in Mantua, from 1717 to 1721, he created his masterpiece, the “Four Seasons”. He paired the four part violin concertos with four sonnets that may have been written by him.
Unfortunately, towards the end of his life, his fame started dimming. He found himself without a patron and died in poverty in Vienna on July 28, 1741. He was buried in a simple grave. Did you know that it wasn’t until the early 20th century that his works were brought back to life?
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