Vivaldi: The Red Priest

A typical person would immediately think of Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart if you were to ask them to name a famous composer. However, another great composer is Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi was a master violinist whose first career was as a priest, but he always loved music.

He has become greatly known for his operas and his pieces written for large groups of string instruments. His most know work is “Four Seasons“. Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678, in Venice, Italy. As a young child, Vivaldi always loved music and his father helped him develop this love byhaving some of the greatest musicians of the time teach him to play stringed instruments, particularly the violin.

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Vivaldi loved all types of instruments, but could never master instruments requiring wind because of medical issues. Another one of Vivaldi’s passions was religion. At the age of fifteen, Vivaldi began studying to become a priest. He was ordained into priesthood in 1703, at the age of 25. Vivaldi had red hair, and soon earned the nickname “the Red Priest”. Even though Vivaldi loved religion, he said he no longer wished to celebrate mass because of health issues.

There are stories that sometimes Vivaldi would leave the altar during a service just to quickly write down music he had been thinking of. This “Red Priest” began his musical career by being appointed violin master at the Ospedale della Pieta (Devout Hospital of Mercy) in Venice in 1703. He composed some of his greatest pieces while in this position. He was promoted to the director of music in 1716. He often traveled to Mantua and Rome; where the money was.

While in Mantua, he wrote what could easily be call his most famous piece, The Four Seasons. This piece contains four movements that are very programmatic (they tell a story with music). Vivaldi even wrote four sonnets to go along with his pieces. Each piece is written so that it makes the listener feel something that corresponds with that season. Vivaldi continued composing until his death. He died on July 28, 1741, in Venice, at the age of 63.

His music is still loved and played all over the world to this day.