Antonio Vivaldi




Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice, Italy, in 1678.



Antonio Vivaldi died in Vienna, Austria, in 1741.

Life Events

Employment at Pio Ospedale della Pieta

1703 - 1733

In September he became Maestro di Violino at the Pio Ospdale della Pieta orphanage in Venice. The school was for the education of girls. Vivaldi composed some of his most famous works for the school orchestra, including "Le Quattro stagioni" or "The Four Seasons."



Antonio Vivaldi was ordained as a Priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1703. He was nicknamed "il Prete Rosso", or "The Red Priest", because of his red hair.

Compositions Published


In 1705 the first collection of his compositions was published.



In 1728, while visiting Trieste, Vivaldi was knighted by the Austrian Emperor and invited to visit Vienna.

Music Rediscovered

1926 - 1939

In 1926, over 400 of Vivaldi's compositions thought lost were discovered in a monastery in Italy. In 1939 some of these compositions were performed at a Vivaldi festival, marking the start of the appreciation of his works in the 20th century.

Musical Composition

Most of Vivaldi's greatest compositions were written while he was employed as the violin master at the Pieta orphanage in Venice.

The Four Seasons


A quartet of violin concertos, this composition includes one work in three movements for each season of the year: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Perhaps the most famous of these is "Spring." Scroll down to the text entry and click on a video of Itzhak Perlman playing first violin in a performance of this piece. Notice that there is no conductor; Perlman is directing the string orchestra with his bow and body language, this mode of conducting was the common practice during Vivaldi's life time. Notice how the second violin echos the themes played by Perlman. Listen for the ways the solo violins imitate nature sounds, especially birds. Listen for the sound of running water played by the orchestra 1:12 minutes into the piece. In addition to the strings is an essential part of the orchestration; the basso continuo, played here on a virginal (a keyboard instrument that was a precusor to the piano.) You will hear some of the same themes repeated many times, this is typical of the form (ritornello form) in which this composition is written.

Stabat Mater


The "Stabat Mater", based on the hymn "The Sorrows of Mary", was composed for solo alto voice and strings. It is a masterpiece of simplicity. The strings and basso continuo, played here by the violincello and bass viol, are subordinate in both volume and complexity to the voice, and yet pull the ear of the listener along between vocal expressions to create an unbroken musical narrative. The alto voice part, written in the richest and most expressive part of the range, pulls at the listener's soul as the words narrate the miraculous event. The basso continuo in the first movement, in an unrelenting example of fortspinnung, is the musical realization of the mournful beat of the weeping mother's heart as she stands next to the cross of her crucified Son.



Griselda is an opera composed by Vivaldi based on a libretto written by Carl Goldoni, a famous playwright. This aria (Italian for 'song') is sung by Cecelia Bartoli displaying the amazingly wide range of both the piece and her voice. In this aria the soubrette, Constanza, sings of being pulled in two directions: does she choose love or duty? The lyrics and music of the aria capture the changing emotions of the young girl from breathless to frightened.