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In 1703 Vivaldi became a priest and acquired the nickname "The Red Priest", since he had red hair. He had become a priest against his own will because it was the only possible way for his poor family to obtain free schooling. In 1704 he was pardoned from celebrating the Holy Mass because of his ill health, and later became a violin teacher at an orphanage for girls called Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. The orphans soon started to gain appreciation and esteem as Vivaldi wrote most of his concertos, cantate and sacred music for them. In 1705 the first collection of his works was published. He was a prolific composer and is most well known for composing over 500 concertos, 46 Operas, sinfonias, 73 sonatas, chamber music, and sacred music. His most famous work is said to be the Four Seasons.
Vivaldi's music is particularly innovative as he gave brightness to the formal and the rhythmic structure of concertos. He repeatedly looked for harmonic contrasts, creating innovative melodies and themes. Vivaldi’ main goal was to create a musical piece meant to be appreciated by the wide public, and not only by an intellectual minority. The joyful appearance of his music reveals a transmittable joy of composing. These are among the causes of the vast popularity of his music. This popularity soon made him famous also in countries like France, at the time very closed into its national schemes. He is considered one of the authors that brought Baroque music to evolve into an impressionist style.
The Four Seasons composed by Vivaldi was one of the earliest examples of program music and was also the most famous of all his concertos. Vivaldi wanted to depict the various seasons in the four concerti in Italian. When you listen to the Four Season, you feel as though he has created a whole another atmosphere with its own feelings. He seems to have used only the four major instruments that are usually present in an orchestra, which are the violin, viola, cello and bass, to depict this atmosphere effortlessly.
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~Works Cited ~
1.) “Antonio Vivaldi.” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 2002 ed.
2.) Halliwell, Sarah. The 18th century: artists, writers, and composers. Austin: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1998.