Antonio Vivaldi was born March 4, 1678 in Venice, Italy. Antonio’s father was Giovanni Battista Antonio, a dyer, and his mother was Margarita. Antonio had three older siblings, but only one sister survived infancy. Antonio began composing music at the age of five or six years old. Antonio learned to play many instruments as well.
Antonio’s father, Giovanni Battista, who also taught Antonio to play the violin and harpsichord, was a barber before taking up music as a profession; Antonio’s mother, Margarita, came from a family of merchants. Antonio was baptised at S. Maria Maggiore just three days after his birth and given the name Antonio Lucio. His full name became Antonio Lucio Vivaldi – later known as Antonio Vivaldi.
Antonio began studying music when he was five years old as an urchin child with Ospedale della Pietà (The Orphanage of Mercy), but his talent for music was discovered very soon. Antonio became a violin prodigy, performing for the first time in public at the age of seven. Antonio’s father was still his teacher at that time and Vivaldi senior introduced Antonio to many composers like Corelli , Lotti , Pasquini and Alessandro Scarlatti. Antonio graduated from the Pietà orphanage on June 6th, 1693. Antonio showed talent as an organist too; he performed at the San Giovanni e Paolo (Saint John and Paul) Cathedral in Venice where he improvised at the weekly musical evenings which were held there .
He later joined the priesthood, but continued his career as a musician until 1703 – Antonio composed operas during this period together with other composers . Antonio was ordained on February 22nd, 1703 . Antonio’s first opera was called Almira , but he didn’t insist on composing operas for long. Antonio composed concerti (sonatas) instead – Antonio disliked writing an opera because of the singers and orchestra members not knowing their parts and disobeying what they were doing .
The Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi is mostly known for The Four Seasons which became Antonio’s most popular work. Antonio actually wrote twelve violin concertos called Il Cimento dell’ Armonia e dell’ Inventione (Harmony and Invention Contest) which all had four seasons as a theme; Antonio wanted to describe nature in music by combining harmonic sounds which would represent spring and summer with brilliant, virtuosic passages which would represent autumn and winter . Antonio finally finished The Four Seasons in 1723 .
Antonio presented The Four Seasons to an English nobleman, Charles 2nd Earl of Manchester before Antonio went to London. Antonio spent five years in London – he probably introduced Antonio to George Frideric Handel and Johann Christian Bach , two well-known composers at that time. Antonio returned home when his health deteriorated; Antonio never made another journey outside Italy again . Antonio dedicated The Four Seasons to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI , but Charles died soon after so Antonio dedicated it instead to his successor, Charles’s son Maximilian Francis of Austria who was only four years old at the time .
The Four Seasons was Antonio’s most successful work, but Antonio didn’t get any benefit from it – Antonio did receive some money though. Antonio sold The Four Seasons to a publisher in Paris together with Il Cimento dell’ Armonia e dell’ Inventione for 500 lire which Antonio never got.
Antonio Vivaldi is mostly known for his violin concertos and operas, but Antonio also composed sacred music such as psalms , motets and Magnificats . Antonio created the ‘Teatro San Angelo’ in Venice in 1715 where Antonio conducted all of his operas until 1739-40 when he went blind.
Antonio received formal education at the Oratorio dei Crocetti beginning in 1693 where he studied musical composition under Marco Ricci who was an organist himself. Antonio later attended the Pio Ospedale della Pietà which is considered one of Europe’s most renowned schools for orphaned children with musicians . The school taught orphans how to sing, play, and compose music. Antonio Vivaldi was not an orphan himself but he lived in the school dormitory from ages 8-16.
Antonio composed his first concerto at 17 years old under Marco Ricci’s guidance . Antonio became a priest in 1703 but still continued to compose throughout his lifetime. Antonio only wrote one opera, Ottone, during his lifetime that was performed at Teatro Sant’ Angelo in Venice on March 9th, 1713. Antonio went to Brescia as well between August 1717 through August of 1718 where he taught counterpoint classes before returning to Venice to serve as maestro di violino .
In 1722 Antonio Vivaldi entered into a relationship with Cecilia, young orphaned niece of Antonio Vivaldi landlord Antonio Vivaldi wrote Antonio Vivaldi first draft of Antonio Vivaldi oratorio Juditha Triumphans, Antonio Vivaldi’s first work to combine all four voice types with Antonio Vivaldi full orchestra. Antonio Vivaldi also composed a variety of solo and trio sonatas during Antonio Vivaldi stay in Mantua. Antonio Vivaldi was promoted to maestro di violino at a salary three times higher than the previous maestro di violini.
In 1725 Antonio Vivaldi left Antonio Vivaldi home in Venice for Vienna after receiving a lucrative offer from Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor who wanted Antonio Vivaldi to be his personal violin master as well as court composer. In 1727, however, with the death of Charles VI and the accession of Maria Theresa to the throne, Antonio Vivaldi was no longer able to serve Antonio Vivaldi royal patron. Antonio Vivaldi soon set out for Mantua, where Antonio Vivaldi would remain for three years as Antonio Vivaldi court’s official composer and Antonio Vivaldi maestro di violino.
In 1729 Antonio Vivaldi became Music Master to Princess Elisabeth in Turin at the Royal House of Savoy, Antonio Vivaldi ‘s only documented service as a priest. During Antonio Vivaldi stay in Vienna Antonio Vivaldi met Florian Leopold Gassmann, who introduced Antonio Vivaldi into the music life of Vienna and Bohemia. Antonio Vivaldi wrote several operas for this theatre between 1730-1733 Antonio Vivaldi was one of Antonio Vivaldi first composers to write the new form of concerto which Antonio Vivaldi called solo concerto.
In late 1733 Antonio Vivaldi returned to Venice where Antonio Vivaldi became maestro di violino at St. Mark’s Basilica, Antonio Vivaldi filled Antonio Vivaldi predecessor Girolamo Diruta ‘s place as leader of Antonio Vivaldi orchestra after Antonio Vivaldi death in 1709. Antonio Vivaldi also founded a school for girls with its own theatrical troupe, bringing some female musicians into public prominence.
Antonio Vivaldi moved away from Venice only three years later when Antonio Vivaldi was invited to serve as conductor and composer to Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, Antonio Vivaldi heir to Antonio Vivaldi Duchy of Mantua. Antonio Vivaldi took Antonio Vivaldi leave from St Mark’s in Antonio Vivaldi winter of 1735 and Antonio Vivaldi stayed the rest of Antonio Vivaldi life in Mantua.
In November Antonio Vivaldi was dismissed from court for neglecting Antonio Vivaldi duties as a priest and an educator. In May Antonio Vivaldi following year Carlo Gonzaga himself died after a brief illness which all seemed to point towards poison. Many suspected that Antonio Vivaldi brother-in-law Count Pallavicini, who had been his rival for the favor of princess Elisabeth, was responsible for poisoning Carlo Gonzaga with instructions from Charles VI.