Michael McCooe: Composer – Vivaldi
Born in Venice, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi is renowned as one of the greatest Baroque composers of all time and composed over 40 operas over his lifetime.
Living from 4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741, his violin work is some of the earliest which still remains popular today and The Four Seasons perhaps epitomises classical violin music as a whole.
Vivaldi was taught to play the violin from an early age and, by the age of 24, had an extensive musical knowledge. At 25, he became a master of the violin at an orphanage, a position which he would hold for the next 30 years.
In 1705, the first collection of his works was published followed by a second collection of 12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo four years later. His real breakthrough as a composer came in 1711 with 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins with strings, L’estro armonico Opus 3.
Prominence of opera
In the early 18th Century, opera was the preferred form of entertainment for the majority of people which proved to be beneficial to Vivaldi with his opening opera, Ottone in villa. He produced further operas such as Arsilda, regina di Ponto and Juditha triumphans which also proved successful.
In 1716, Vivaldi wrote and produced two more operas, L’incoronazione di Dario and La costanza trionfante degli amori e degli odi. The latter proved so popular that it was edited and re-released two years later, but sadly that work has now been lost.
He wrote the beautiful Four Seasons in 1725, four violin concertos which each depict a season of the year. They were published as the first four concertos in a collection of twelve, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione.
In 1737, Vivaldi wrote of his “94 operas”, though there is only proof that around 50 were written and released. It is unknown whether he exaggerated, or in fact there were some works which had been lost.
As musical tastes would change quickly at the time, Vivaldi came into financial difficulty and was in poverty when he died in 1741. With innovative music which would shape classical music for the future, Vivaldi’s flamboyant melodies allowed his works to live on and influence many composers including Johann Sebastian Bach.
You can listen to some of my favourite classics on my Michael McCooe SoundCloud profile, which is updated on a regular basis.