Antonio Vivaldi

1678 - 1741

Childhood

Antonio Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678 in Venice, Italy. Vivaldi is one of the most famous Baroque Period composers. He was the oldest of seven children born to his parents Giovanni and Camilla. Antonio's father was a violinist and taught him how to play the violin at a young age. Antonio showed a lot of talent and he and his father performed together all over Venice.

 

The Red Priest

When he was 15, Antonio began training to become a priest. The training to be a priest takes a long time but when he was 25, Antonio became a priest.  Antonio had red hair (under the wig that you see in the picture) and he became known as "II Prete Rosso", "The Red Priest". 

 

The Pietà

Antonio only worked as a priest for a year when he decided to become a music teacher in an orphanage school for girls called Ospedale della Pietà. Vivaldi taught the girls but also wrote music for them to play. Over the years the orchestra and singers of La Pietà became famous and people would come from all over to hear them sing and play. Because most of the music they performed was in Church, the girls stood behind a curtain so that they wouldn't distract the people who were praying. Here is a performance of Vivaldi's "Gloria" in the Pietà, by women who are performing the same way the women performed in Vivaldi's time. 

Vivaldi worked at the Pietà for 35 years. While he worked there he wrote close to 500 concertos, more than 50 religious pieces, and several operas. It was also at the Pietà that he wrote his greatest hit "The Four Seasons".

Later Years

In 1740 Vivaldi moved to Vienna, which was becoming the center of music in the world. He was not terribly successful there and his music went out of style. When he died in 1741, he had become a poor man and was buried in an unmarked grave which means we don't know where it is. In the beginning of the 20th century, the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler and the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini started playing Vivaldi's music and it became popular once again, 150 years after Vivaldi had died.

Here is a short video biography of Vivaldi.

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