I’ll be frank classical music is not a regular on my cd player. I can just abut recognise Mozart and the depressive repertoire of Wagner (the classical German composer not the idiot from reality tv) but I am happy to get lost in the music of Antonio Vivaldi. I am some what biased towards Vivaldi as he is a Venetian and I have a love for that city his music flutters through the city in the summer. This year sees the 335th anniversary of his birth. He was born the 4th of March 1678, the day that an earth quake hit the lagoon city in north east Italy.
It is thought his father taught him the how to play the violin and for this daddy Vivaldi we thank you. He clearly had a talent as he became Maestro di Cappella at San Marco Basilica. He was ordained as Catholic priest in 1703 but was released from priestly duties due to ill heath. It is thought he had breathing difficulties most probably a mild form of asthma. This release from religious life left him to concentrate on his musical career. Although he was not practicing he kept the title of priest and due to his red hair was known as “Il Prete Rosso”.
He took up a job teaching music to the female orphans of Pio Ospedale della Pieta. The girls became famous for their music and choir around baroque Europe and this was partly due to Vivaldi. Many of the children were the unwanted children of the citys many Courtesans. Word of his musical talent reached the Vatican and Vivaldi was invited to play for Pope Benedict XIII.
It is thought that we have not heard all of Antonio Vivaldi’s catalogue of music and that there are possibly many musical scripts waiting to be discovered. I think it is true to say that his most popular or well recognised piece is the Four Seasons.
Although he was recognised and even thought to be too progressive in his life time by traditional and conservative musicians in Venice we would die in poverty in 1741 like many great artists of the past he would reap the reward of his legacy.
Venice is right to be proud of this famous son who has left a legacy that will go on for years to come even if it is as hold music for banks.