Antonio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 — 28 July 1741) was an Italian composer and violinist from the Baroque era.
He was considered a master of the Baroque concerto form, and is perhaps best known for a set of four violin concertos called the Four Seasons. He also wrote a lot of sacred music, operas, and cantatas.
Vivaldi began his career as a Catholic priest and a tutor of music in a school for girls in Venice. He was referred to as 'The Red Priest' for his red hair. He was excused from celebrating Mass because of a "tightness of the chest", of which he complained his entire life. This left him free to devote his time to music.
Was very popular in his native Venice as well as elsewhere in Europe during much of his career, but changing musical tastes left him behind, and he died poor. Like many pre-Classical era composers, he fell into relative obscurity by the 19th century. But his popularity went through a revival in the early 20th century, helped along by, among others, Ezra Pound, as well as by the discovery in a monastery of music previously thought lost.
Bach thought highly of him, and transcribed some Vivaldi works to other instruments (i.e., turning some of Vivaldi's violin concertos into pieces for organ or harpsichord).
Vivaldi's life and works provide examples of:
- The Ace: Not only was he a renowned composer, but he was also a virtuoso violinist.
- Baroque Music: One of the most well known Baroque composers.
- Fiery Redhead: While he was a redhead, the "fiery" portion of the trope is not from his personality but in his music. Much of his music, especially his concertos and operatic works, is very energetic, even sometimes angry-sounding. His violin concertos in particular oftentimes have incredibly virtuosic, fiery passages for the violin solo part.
- Ill Guy: Vivaldi had poor health for most of his life and suffered frequent "tightness of the chest" which may have been asthma. It's also theorized that his baptism which occurred immediately after his birth may have been because he was unhealthy as a newborn.
- The Old North Wind: In his violin concerto cycle "The Four Seasons," Boreas (il vento Borea) makes noted appearances in two of the concerti. In the first movement of "Summer," Boreas manifests in a tumultuous passage with the violins playing thirty-second notes, disrupting the gentle breezes of Zephyr and foreshadowing the destructive thunderstorm depicted in the third movement. In the third movement of "Winter," Boreas is similarly represented as a wild solo violin break; though quickly joined by other winds (i.e. the ensemble), Boreas once again follows music depicting a gentler wind, in this case, the hot Sirocco, recalling the languid opening of "Summer."
- Trope Codifier: While the three-movement concerto form already existed, concertos often had more movements, oftentimes as many as four or more. Vivaldi helped codify the three-movement form as his popularity spread throughout Europe, and most concertos from the late Baroque period and onward adopted the standard three movements.
Vivaldi in popular culture
- Phone any company and ask for somebody not present on the phone. While you are put on hold chances are 9 out of 10 that the melody will be "Spring" from the "Four Seasons".
- Play with Me by Extreme features riffs from various classical pieces including Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
- "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" is used in BanYa's catalog for Pump It Up.
- V and V2 from beatmania IIDX samples Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, L'inverno (Winter) from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
- "Vorsprung Durch Techno" and "Summer in Belize" from In the Groove 2 are based on the Spring and Summer movements, respectively, of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
- He is mentioned as being dead in the song "Decomposing Composers" by Michael Palin sang on Monty Python's Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.
- In the podcast Sequinox, four magical girls themed after the four seasons are aided by a young man who calls himself Vivaldi. He has a magical violin that he can use to empower the girls by playing either their respective concerto or "Woman" by Kesha.