Vivaldi was born into a working class family. He was the eldest of 9 children. His father, who started out as a tailor, then a barber, learned how to play the violin and eventually landed a gig as church violinist for St. Marks in Vienna. Antonio’s father taught him to play violin as well.
“In 1703, he became ordained as a priest and was widely known as the “Red Priest” due to his red hair.” [Biography.com] But he really had no calling to religious life. His religious training was a way for him to get an education (a common practice amongst the poor). Once ordained he…”no longer wished to celebrate mass because of physical complaints.” [Baroque Music.org] It is uncertain whether the illness was angina, asthma or a nervous disorder.
He began to teach violin at Ospedale della Pieta, a girls “orphanage” (it was really a home for the illegitimate daughters of wealthy noble men.) He also composed for the girls.
Vivaldi is best known for his Concertos (especially those for violin), his choral works and his operas (he wrote over 40.)
Here’s Autumn from his Four Seasons:
and here’s Gloria in a in Excelsis Deo.
- over 230 vn concs., incl. “Four Seasons,” op.8 nos. 1-4 (circa 1725)
- circa 120 other solo concs. (bn, vc, ob, fl, rec etc)
- circa 40 double concs. ensemble concs. ripieno concs. and sinfonias
- 4 concs. for double orch
- circa 40 vn sonatas
- 9 vc sonatas
- circa 10 fl sonatas
- 27 trio sonatas
- 22 chamber concs.
Sacred vocal music
- Gloria, D
- Magnificat, g
- psalms, hymns, motets etc
- Juditha triumphans (oratorio, 1716)
Secular vocal music
- circa 50 operas, circa 20 surviving, incl. Teuzzone (1719), Tito Manlio (1720), Giustino (1724), Orlando (1727), La fida ninfa (1732), Griselda (1735)
- 3 serenatas
- circa 40 solo cantatas
[List from Great Performances]