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Antonio Vivaldi

(1678 - 1741)

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on March 4th, 1678, in Venice, the capital of the Republic of Venice.

Antonio Vivaldi, Italian composer and violinist, was a major figure in baroque music and exercised a considerable influence on the development of the concerto.

He entered the priesthood, and because of his red hair he was known as "The Red Priest".

From 1704 to 1740 he was teacher, conductor, and composer for the Ospedale della Pieta, a Venetian conservatory and orphanage for girls whose musical performances were famous.

He also traveled widely, producing operas in various European cities.

Vivaldi died on either 27 July or 28 July 1741, of internal fire (which was probably from the asthma that he had been suffering from) in a house owned by the widow of a Viennese saddle-maker.

On 28 July he was buried in a simple grave at the Hospital Burial Ground in Vienna.

His burial spot is next to the Karlskirche in Vienna, at the site of the Technical Institute.

His reputation diminished in later years.

Vivaldi's music was forgotten for a century after his death but began to arouse interest with the discovery of its influence on J. S. Bach, who arranged a number of Vivaldi's concertos for keyboard.

Large quantities of his works have been found since the 1920s, and they are now widely published, performed, and recorded.

Vivaldi's output was enormous, encompassing most of the vocal and instrumental forms of his time.

He claimed to have written 94 operas, of which 19 are preserved; these are rarely revived.

Vivaldi also wrote secular cantatas and many church works for chorus, soloists, and orchestra; oratorios, motets, and mass movements, the most popular today being the splendid Gloria Mass.

His instrumental music, however, is the most admired. His greatest contribution lay in his nearly 450 concertos. These are in various scorings for orchestra alone (also called sinfonias), orchestra with one solo instrument, and orchestra with two or more solo instruments.

More than half feature the violin, but a variety of other instruments are also represented, cello, viola d'amore, mandolin, and woodwinds and brasses.

Most are in three movements with spirited outer movements framing a slow lyrical one. Some are descriptive, such as the popular four that depict the Four Seasons.

Many are routine works, but the best, such as the set entitled L'Estro Armonico (Harmonic Inspiration), have vigorous themes, powerful rhythmic drive, and strong structures.



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