- Antonio Vivaldi - The Red Priest [Biography]
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Antonio Vivaldi

Italy is the home of the violin. The first violins were made there, in the early years of the 16th century. The greatest violin makers - the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari families - worked in the Italian town of Cremona, from the 16th through the 18th centuries. And the first great composers for the violin were all Italians - Corelli, Torelli, Tartini, and, above all, Antonio Vivaldi.

Vivaldi was born on 4 March, 1678 in Venice; the son of a violinist in the orchestra at the church of St. Mark, Venice. All the best composers for the violin have exploited the instrument's singing qualities. Like the human voice, the violin can express a wide range of emotions. In this respect, Vivaldi was a true pioneer. He wrote plenty of fine music for other instruments - and for voices -- but it is his music for strings, above all the violin, that ranges so effortlessly from song-like joy to melancholy, with all the romantic feeling of a true Italian master.

Vivaldi lived in Venice during the Baroque period, and the music he wrote for the violin and for its deeper-toned relatives, the viola, cello, and double-bass, perfectly sums up the spirit of those times. He influenced many contemporaries, most notably J.S.Bach, who made a number of arrangements of his music.

Beyond that, Vivaldi's development of the concerto and the sonata looked forward to the Classical age of Haydn and Mozart, in the latter part of the 18th century. His powers of musical description, in such works as The Four seasons, looked even further forward, to the Romantic era of the 19th century.

Vivaldi died on 28 July, 1741 in Vienna. He was buried in a pauper's grave.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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