Antonio Vivaldi, violinist and composer, was born on March 4,
1678, in Venice, Italy and died on July 28,1741 in Vienna, Austria. He
was nicknamed “the red priest” because of his red hair and the fact that
he had been ordained as a priest at St. Mark’s Chapel in Venice in
1703. Because of poor health, he was excused from active service as a
priest in 1704.
Of the composers of the Baroque Period (1600-1750) in music, Vivaldi is most remembered for his concertos ‑ he wrote over 500! Most of his concertos were for the violin (more than 230) but he also wrote concertos for other instruments, such as: viola (6), cello (27), mandolin (2), trumpet, oboe (17), bassoon (37) and, of course, the flute (16 - including 3 for Piccolo and 2 for Recorder).
Although for almost 200 years after
his death, Vivaldi’s music fell into virtual obscurity, his influence
on the solo concerto was widespread. His use of three movements (fast,
slow, fast) and ritornello form (a refrain, alternating with solo
episodes) was copied and developed by his successors.
Vivaldi only assigned Opus Numbers to his published works. In 1733, after Opus 12, he stated that he wasn’t going to publish any further because it interfered with the sale of his manuscripts (from which he received more money). The Il Pastor Fido, Op. 13 (The Faithful Shepherd) Flute Sonatas are considered spurious, constructed from parts of works by Vivaldi, in addition to Joseph Meck (1690-1758) and Giuseppe M. Alberti (1685-1751). The Alberti Bass pattern, used by Vivaldi and other Baroque and Classical composers is named for Domenico Alberti (1710-1740, no relation to Giuseppe), who was the first composer to employ it.
The Four Seasons are the first 4 Violin Concertos (of 12) in Vivaldi’s Opus 8, published in 1725 under the title Il Cimento dell’ Armonia e dell’ Invenzione (The Contest of Harmony and Invention); Spring is the first, and probably most recognizable and famous of The Four Seasons.
It was fashionable to have descriptive titles for concertos, such as “Spring”, “Winter”, etc., but with The Four Seasons,
Vivaldi also included 4 short sonnets, one for each season, to explain
what the music was depicting (the measures to which each line applies
are in parenthesis):
(1st Movement) Spring has arrived and happily (1-13)
the birds welcome it with cheerful song, (14-28)
and the streams flow at the breath of zephyrs with sweet murmuring. (32-41)
Now the sky darkens and there is thunder and lightning. (45-56)
Afterwards, the birds return and sing anew. (60-66)
(2nd Movement) Then, on the pleasant flowery meadow under the rustling trees, (violins)
the shepherd sleeps with his faithful dog (viola) at his side.
(3rd Movement) To the festive sounds of the country bagpipe (sustained notes in the viola, cello & bass)
nymphs and shepherds dance under the glorious spring sky.
The most difficult part in Spring is the section containing sixteenth note triplets in the solo part in the 1st movement (47-55). The “X” versions of the smp files change these to simply sixteenth notes - as printed on page 6; the only difference between pages 5 and 6 are bars 47 to 55. If you want to play this version, turn to page 6 during the rest (bars 45-46).
9”X12” - 12 pages - $14.95
CD - 6 smp files:
- 1st Movement (4/4, Allegro, quarter = 104);
- 1st Movement X (4/4, Allegro, quarter = 104);
- 2nd Movement (3/4, Largo e pianissimo sempre, quarter = 55);
- 3rd Movement (12/8, Allegro, dotted quarter = 90);
- Complete (All three movements)
- Complete X (All three movements)
Please note that this is NOT an Audio CD
and an active SmartMusic subscription is needed to play smp files