Vivaldi Antonio (04.03.1678 - 28.07.1741)
One of the greatest representatives of the Baroque era, A. Vivaldi entered the history of musical culture as the creator of the instrumental concert genre, the founder of orchestral program music. Vivaldi's childhood is connected with Venice, where his father worked as a violinist in St Mark's Cathedral. The family had six children, of whom Antonio was the eldest. Details about the composer's childhood are almost not preserved. It is only known that he was trained to play the violin and harpsichord.
On September 18, 1693, Vivaldi was tonsured as a monk, and on March 23, 1703, he was consecrated. For his hair color Vivaldi was nicknamed the "red monk". It is assumed that already in these years he was not too zealous about his duties as a clergyman. Many sources retell the story (perhaps unreliable, but revealing) of how one day during the service the "red monk" hastily left the altar to write down the theme of the fugue that suddenly occurred to him. In any case, Vivaldi's relations with the clerical circles continued to heat up, and soon he, referring to his poor health, publicly refused to serve the Mass.
In September 1703 Vivaldi began to work as a teacher in the Venetian charity orphanage "Pio Ospedale delia Pieta". "Services" in "Pieta" (they rightfully can be called concerts) were in the center of attention of the enlightened Venetian public. For reasons of economy, in 1709 Vivaldi was dismissed, but in 1711-16 restored in the same position, and from May 1716 he was already an accompanist of the "Pieta" orchestra.
Even before the new appointment, Vivaldi established himself not only as a teacher, but also as a composer (mainly an author of sacred music). Parallel to his work at Pieta, Vivaldi was looking for opportunities to publish his secular writings. 12 trio sonatas op. 1 were published in 1706; in 1711 there appeared the most famous collection of violin concerts "Harmonious Inspiration" op. 3; in 1714 - another collection called "Extravagance" op. 4. Vivaldi’s violin concerts very soon gained wide popularity in Western Europe and especially in Germany. Great interest in them was shown by I. Kvants, I. Mattezon, J-S. Bach personally put Vivaldi’s 9 violin concerts for the clavier and organ. In these same years Vivaldi wrote his first operas Otton (1713), Orlando (1714), Nero (1715). In 1718-20 he lived in Mantua, where he mainly wrote operas for the carnival season, as well as instrumental works for the Mantua ducal court.
In 1725, one of the composer's most famous opuses, bearing the subtitle "The Experience of Harmony and Invention" (op. 8), comes out of print. Like the previous ones, the collection was made up of violin concerts. The first 4 concerts of this opus were named by the composer, respectively, "Spring", "Summer", "Autumn" and "Winter". In modern performing practice, they are often combined into the cycle "Seasons" (there is no such title in the original).
The end of the 20's - 30's are often referred to as "years of travel" (presumably to Vienna and Prague). In August 1735, Vivaldi returned to the position of the Pieta orchestra conductor, but the management committee did not like their subordinate’s passion for travel, and in 1738 the composer was dismissed. At the same time Vivaldi continued to work hard in the genre of opera (one of his librettists was the famous K. Goldoni), and preferred to personally participate in the production. However, Vivaldi's opera performances were of little success, especially after the composer was deprived of the opportunity to act as the director of his operas in the theater of Ferrara because of the cardinal's prohibition to enter the city (the composer was incriminated an affair with Anna Giraud, his former student). As a result, the opera premiere in Ferrara failed.
In 1740, shortly before his death, Vivaldi went on his last journey to Vienna. He died in the house of the widow of a Viennese saddler named Valler and was beggarly buried. Soon after the death, the name of the outstanding master was forgotten. Almost 200 years later, in the 20's of the XX century Italian musicologist A. Gentili discovered a unique collection of manuscripts of the composer (300 concerts, 19 operas, spiritual and secular vocal compositions). From this time, a genuine revival of Vivaldi's former glory begins. According to the authoritative subject-systematic catalog of Peter Ryom (international designation - RV), it covers more than 700 titles. The main place in Vivaldi's work was played by an instrumental concert (in all, about 500 were preserved). The composer's favorite instrument was a violin (about 230 concerts). In addition, he wrote concerts for two, three and four violins with an orchestra and basso continue, concerts for viola d'amore, cello, mandolin, longitudinal and transverse flutes, oboe, bassoon. There are more than 60 concerts for string orchestra and basso continue, sonatas for various instruments. Of the more than 40 operas (the authorship of Vivaldi with respect to each is accurately established), only half has been preserved. Less popular (but no less interesting) are his numerous vocal compositions - cantatas, oratorios, writings on spiritual texts (psalms, litanies, "Gloria", etc.).
Already during his lifetime Vivaldi became famous as an outstanding connoisseur of the orchestra, the inventor of many coloristic effects, he did much to develop the technique of playing the violin.