Monday, October 17, 2011

Antonio Vivaldi: "The Red Haired Priest!"

Antonio Vivaldi is noted today as one of Baroque's greatest composer's. Born on March 4th 1678, Vivaldi, not like so many other musicians of the time, was born into a family of wealth. His father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, was noted as one of the best violinist's in all of Venice and is credited to being the one who taught Antonio at a young age the life of the violin. Suffering from what appeared to be asthma, Vivaldi was not in the best respiratory health, but was able to still learn the violin at a virtuoso pace. He toured with father from concert hall to concert hall till the life of Priesthood beckoned him at the age of 15. You see, it was not uncommon at the time that the boys of wealthy families grew up to be priest's, simply for the hierarchical position and power they could attain at this position for the family. It was during the next 10 years of Priest training that Vivaldi gained the nickname "il Prete Rosso" or other known as "The Red Haired Priest". It was also during this time that Vivaldi was fighting his illness and only soon after gaining Priesthood at the age of 25, Vivaldi had to give up his Priest duties because of ill health. Bad luck, HUH? From there Vivaldi went on to become the Violin Master for an all girls orphanage named "Devout Hospital of Mercy". He taught music theory, the use of instruments and wrote music for the girls to learn and perform for the public. Soon after he was appointed, the Orphanage started gaining appreciation and esteem across Europe. He wrote everything from sacred works to concerto's for these girls to learn, but it seemed that everyone loved what was happening except for the Board of Directorsn for the Orphanage. After years of on going unanimous voting, Vivaldi was fired by the Board in 1709 only to be bought back in 1711 by the Director's themselves. Obviously they didn't understand Vivaldi's importance to the Orphanage. Vivaldi then in 1714 decided to change scenery and became the Impresario for the Teatro Sant' Angelo in Venice. From there he composed Opera's the first of which, Orlando finto Pazzo, received bad reviews for being to complicated. But from there it seemed that Vivaldi caught fire and produced one great Opera after another. By the end of his life he was able to accumulate about 46 of them, along with 500 concerto's, about 90 sonata's and a large body sacred choral music. Vivaldi ended his tenure in Venice and moved to Mantua in 1717 to make music for the Governor. For him, he produced Tito Manlio and La Silvia. From there Vivaldi moved around a bit starting in 1722 and finally settling again in Venice in 1725, where with in the same year he produced four Opera's. Vivaldi also during this time in Venice was able to crank out his most famous music, "The Four Season's". Four concerto's dedicated on depicting the four season's. Vivaldi seemed like the man from there. He wrote collaborations with some of the best artist's at the time. Everyone ranging from Carlo Goldoni to Pietro Metastasio, the leader of the Arcadian Movement and court poet of Vienna. But then something happened. Vivaldi's music lost interest in the people. The views of music was changing and no one wanted to listen to him anymore. Vivaldi in a last ditch effort to gain a secure job sold most of his pieces to gain money to move to Vienna. His intention was to take up a imperial court job, making music. But his main supporter. The man who was going to get him the gig, Charles VI, died. This left Vivaldi nothing, no job, no place stay. Nothing. Vivaldi shortly there after passed away in the home of a widow in 1741 at the age of 63. Vivaldi's Stabat Mater will be performed by the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Friday November 4th, 2011 at the Christ Episcopal Church in Corning, N.Y. For ticket information you can call 607-936-2873, or email devin@osfl.org. See you there!!!

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