Antonio Vivaldi

THE MUSIC

  • Instrumental music _

    Vivaldi was the first to fully develop the concerto style in which a solo instrument is contrasted with an orchestra. Once he discovered this virtuostic style on his own instrument, the violin, he went on to write the first concerti in the history of music for violoncello, basson, flute, recorder, mandolin, viola d’amore and oboe. He developed this new style to a greater degree than any other compser in the 18th century.

    A discussion of the more than 300 concerti which Vivaldi wrote must necessarily begin with the first such works he composed, for violin. Numerous documents (see Violon Virtuoso) describe Vivaldi’s extraordinary capacity to improvise and to perform acrobatic musical feats on the violin. It was this ability that allowed him to experiment and eventually lead him to develop, as early as 1700, concertos for solo violin and the concept of a concertante virtuoso. Throughout his life he continued to write concerti for violin, progressively pushing the instrument’s technique to new heights. The influence this had on the history of music is only just beginning to be understood.

    In 1711 Vivaldi's L’estero armonico (op. 3) was published by Etienne Rogers in Amsterdam. In the following years they would publish twelve volumes of his works. This group of concertos quickly established themselves as the norm. So popular was this new model, that it began to be imitated throughout Europe; J.S. Bach transcribed five of these works for keyboard and one for four keyboards and strings, Johann Joachim Quantz was much impressed by Vivaldi's music and collected it, courts clamoured to obtain his scores. in 1725 Vivaldi's work Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'invenzione which included the Four Season was published. in France it was played at the Concerts Spirituels, Louis XVI commanded its performance, Corrette, Chédeville and Rousseau made transcriptions; in Rome Cardinal Ottoboni included it in his repertoire and perhaps the ultimate proof of success, pirate editions of Vivaldi’s works began appearing on the market.

    Vivaldi was quick to grasp the intrinsic characteristics of each individual instrument and to bring out these qualities in the melodies he composed for them. This repertoire remains highly esteemed by performers and public today. Beyond this he wrote innumerable sonatas, concerti for string orchestra and concertos for two or multiple instruments and orchestra.

    It must be said that Vivaldi had the great fortune to have at his disposition excellent musicians and conditions for creating and performing his works. One could not imagine a better testing ground for his compositional experiments than the orchestra of La Pietà which he formed, conducted and composed for regularly. He was also in close contact with many fine musicians from the various courts of Europe who were often in Venice with their patrons.

     Giving a definitive count to Vivaldi’s works is difficult. Some pieces are found more than once with only slight variations, others are sketches or spurious.  New works come to light from time to time while others are proven to be false attributions. Hence, the numbers given below must not be considered definitive but rather give the reader an idea of the prodigious output of Antonio Vivaldi.
     For more detailed information on these works see http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/catal/vivaldi/viva.html

    INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

    Solo Sonatas
    41 Sonatas for violin & b.c.
    10 Sonatas for cello & b.c.
    12 other sonatas for 1 instrument

    Sonatas for several instruments
    20 Sonatas for 2 violins & b.c.
    7 Sonatas for 2 instruments
    40 Sonatas for more than 2 instruments

    Concerti da camera
    22 Concertos without orchestra
    60 Concertos and sinfonie for string orchestra

    Solo concertos (for 1 instrument)
    242 Concertos for violin & string orchestra
    6 Concertos for viola d’amore & string orchestra
    27 Concertos for cello & string orchestra
    1 Concerto for mandolin & string orchestra
    15 Concertos for travers flute & string orchestra
    2 Concertos for recorder & string orchestra
    3 Concertos for flautino & string orchestra
    20 Concertos for oboe & string orchestra
    39 Concertos for bassoon & string orchestra

    Concertos for 2 instruments
    26 Concertos for 2 violins & string orchestra
    18 Concertos for 2 instruments & string orchestra
    5 Concertos for several violins & string orchestra
    27 Other concertos for several instruments & string orchestra
    3 Concertos for violin & 2 string orchestras
    2 Concertos for several instruments and 2 orchestras

     

  • Sacred music _

    The post of Maestro di Coro, a position which Vivaldi held on and off at the Pietà, required the composition of two new Mass and Vesper settings annually, two motets every month and occasional compositions as required for funerals, Holy Week, etc. It would not be reckless to assume that, at a time when music was an integral part of religious services, Vivaldi may have received commissions outside the Pietà as well.

    Over 60 sacred works, including one oratorio, Juditha Triumphans. To quote Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot on Vivaldi and his sacred music: “Fervour, exaltation and mysticism; these qualities break forth from the scores.” And “It is as if Vivaldi sought in church music a dignity and serenity for which his life as virtuoso and entrepreneur, invalid and globe-trotter, left him too little time”.

    Vivaldi’s sacred music was not published in his lifetime. The autograph scores which are extant can be divided into two groups, the liturgical settings and the non-liturgical texts.

    For more detailed information see: http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/catal/vivaldi/viva.html

    LITURGICAL :

    1. 1 complete Mass and seperate settings of the Kyrie, 2 Glorias and 2 Credos
    2. Vesper music comprising Domine ad adiuvandum
    3. Psalms 109 (two versions), 110, 111 (two versions), 112 (four versions), 113, 115, 116 121, 126, 147
    4. 9 various hymns and antiphons including three settings of the Salve Regina
    5. 4 versions of the Magnificat

    NON-LITURGICAL :

    - Oratorio Juditha triumphans
    - 12 solo motets (of which two are incomplete)
    - 8 introduzioni and 3 independant movements


     

  • The Operas _

    Together with Naples, Venice was the richest city in the world for opera from the end of the 17th century and on to the end of the 18th century. The public demand was great and composers such as Vivaldi were producing new works fast and furiously to meet that demand.

    By 1700 there were no less than six active opera houses in Venice, of which one was the Sant’Angelo where Vivaldi took on the role of impressario and resident composer in 1713. This would remain the Venetian theatre with which Vivaldi was most frequently associated as a composer. No fewer than 18 of his operas were first performed there as well as numerous revivals of his works. From that time on Vivaldi was continually involved in writing operas and in a letter written at the end of his life to the Marchese Bentivoglio he claimed that he had written more than 94 operas in his lifetime. This may seem an exaggeration but some fifty libretti of productions of his operas have come down to us while other operas must have been lost. Vivaldi would have also been counting pasticci (operas to which he made a partial contribution. 

    Below are listed nearly 60 documented performances of Vivaldi’s operas including premieres and revivals:

    1713 - Ottone in Villa – Vicenza, Teatro delle Garzerei
    1714 - Orlando Finto Pazzo – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1715 - Nerone fatto Cesare – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1716 - La costanza trionfante degli’Amori e degl’Odii – Venice, Teatro S. Moisè
    1716 - Arsilda Regina di Ponto – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1717 - L’incoronazione di Dario – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1717 - Tieteberga – Venice, Teatro S. Moisè
    1718 - Armida al campo d’Egitto – Venice, Teatro S. Moisè
    1718 - Scanderbeg – Florence, Teatro della Pergola
    1719 - Teuzzone – Manta, Teatro Arciducale
    1719 - Tito Manlio – Manta, Teatro Arciducale
    1720 - La Candace, o siano Li veri amici – Mantua, Teatro Arciducale
    1720 - La verità in cimento – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1720 - Filippo Re di Macedonia – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1721 - La Silvia – Milan, Regio Ducal Teatro
    1723 - Ercole sul Termodonte – Rome, Teatro Capranica
    1724 - La Virtù trionfante dell’Amore e dell’Odio ovvero Il Tigrane - Rome, Teatro Capranica
    1724 – Il Giustino – Rome, Teatro Capranica
    1725 – L’Inganno trionfante in amore – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1726 – Armida al campo d’Egitto – Ravenna, Teatro dell’Industria
    1726 – La Cunegonda – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1726 – La fede tradita e vendicata – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1726 – Dorilla in Tempe – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1727 – Ipermetra – Florence, Teatro della Pergola
    1727 – Farnace – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1727 – Siroe, Re di Persia – Reggio Emilia, Teatro Pubblico
    1727 – Orlando furioso – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1728 – Dorilla in Tempe – Venice, Teatro S. Margherita
    1728 – Rosilena ed Oronta – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1729 – L’Atenaide – Florence, Teatro della Pergola
    1729 – Ottone in Villa – Treviso, Teatro del Dolfino
    1730 – Farnace – Prague, Sporck Theatre
    1730 – Argippo – Prague, Sporck Theatre
    1731 – Armida al campo d’Egitto – Venice – Teatro S. Margherita
    1731 – Alvilda regina dei Goti – Prague, Sporck Theatre
    1731 – Farnace – Pavia, Teatro Omodeo
    1732 – Semiramide – Mantua, Teatro Arciducale
    1732 – La fida ninfa – Verona, Teatro Filarmonico
    1732 – Farnace – Mantua, Teatro Arciducale
    1732 – Dorilla in Tempe – Prague, Sporck Theatre
    1733 – Motezuma, Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1734 – Dorilla in Tempe – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1734 – L’Olimpiade, Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1735 – Il Tamerlano (Bajazet) – Verona, Teatro Filarmonico
    1735 – L’Adelaide – Verona, Teatro Filarmonico
    1735 – La Griselda – Venice, Teatro S. Samuele
    1736 – Ginevra Principessa di Scozia – Florence, Teatro della Pergola
    1737 – Farnace – Treviso, Teatro Dolfin
    1737 – Catone in Utica – Verona, Teatro Filarmonico
    1738 – L’oracolo in Messenia – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1738 – Rosmira – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1738 – Armida al campo d’Egitto – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1738 – Siroe, re di Persia – Ancona, Teatro Fenice
    1739 – Feraspe – Venice, Teatro S. Angelo
    1742 – L’oracolo in Messenia – Vienna, Kärntnertor Theatre

    Vivaldi’s opera scores were never published in his lifetime. Twenty scores, of which three are incomplete, are housed in the Foà-Giordano collection of manuscripts in Torino:

    Armida al campo d’Egitto (act two missing)
    Arsilda, regina di Ponto (two versions)
    Atenaide
    Catone in Utica (act one missing)
    Dorilla in Tempe
    Farnace (two versions - one incomplete)
    La Fida Ninfa
    Giustino
    Griselda
    L’Incoronazione di Dario
    L’Olimpiade
    Orlando
    Orlando finto pazzo
    Orlando furioso
    Ottone in villa
    Rosmira fedele
    Il Bajazet
    Teuzzone
    Tito Manlio
    La verità in cimento
    Il Tigrane (acts one and three missing)

    The score of Vivaldi’s opera Motezuma (incomplete) is housed in the archives of the Singakademie in Berlin. A copy of the opera Teuzzone is housed in the State Library of the Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin.

    Individual arias are found in archives throughout Europe.

    Reinhard Strohm’s work The Operas of Antonio Vivaldi (Leo S. Olschki Editore, Firenze, 2008) is an invaluable, thorough source for anyone with a serious interest in Antonio Vivaldi’s operas.

     

  • Secular vocal music _

    Vivaldi composed a number of cantatas and serenatas based on secular texts. His operas, which are treated in a separate section here, also fall in this category.

    CANTATAS:

    The cantata is a composition for one or more voices with instrumental accompaniment. Vivaldi's cantatas generally call for one singer. The simpilist and most popular form was that for solo voice and bass accomaniment (harpsichord, cello or both). The secular text, in the vernacular, was almost invariably set in Arcadia with its shepherds, nymphs and, of course, Cupid. Thirty-nine works by Vivaldi in this gendre are preserved:

    22 cantatas for soprano & b.c.
    8 cantatas for contralto & b.c.
    5 cantatas for soprano with instrumental accompaniment
    4 cantatas for contralto w/instrumental accompaniment

    SERENATAS
    :

    The serenata falls somewhere between the cantata and an opera. The setting is generally Arcadia but with a cast of between 3 and 6 singers. It is believed they may have been principally performed at night, hence the name. They are divided into two parts and are shorter than operas. The object of the texts in a serentata is very clear: to praise the patron to whom the work is addressed.

    Three serenatas by Vivaldi are preserved. The longest and most celebrated being La Senna festeggiante:

    RV 687 Gloria e Himeneo
    RV 690 Mio cor povero cor
    RV 693 La Senna Festeggiante

     

  • The Ryom Catalogue _

    Index of the Works of Antonio Vivaldi or The Ryom Index (RV)

    Verzeichnis der Werke Antonio Vivaldis o Ryom Verzeichnis (RV)


    The Ryom catalogue is today considered the most reliable means of tracking down a work by Vivaldi. Peter Ryom began compiling this work in 1974, accumulating almost 1,000 entries. In 2007 he bequeathed the job to Federico Maria Sardelli who is present curator of the catalogue. With the recognition today of Vivaldi’s true importance as a composer there has been an increase in studies and research. Consequently, previously unknown manuscripts have begun surfacing (in recent years a few new manuscripts have been found annually). A group of scholars carefully study the manuscript for authenticy and, if they are in agreement, the work is given a catalogue number begining with the RV.

    At least four other catalogues of Vivaldi’s extant works preceeded Peter Ryom’s work, that of Pincherle, Alberto Fanna, Rinaldi and Ricordi. The ultimate sucess of the Ryom catalogue is in the way it is ordered, by type and tonality as opposed to chronological order. With such a massive amount of music (over 1000 works) this clear, catagorical arrangement makes it far easier to find a particular work while simultaneously giving a precise idea of the enormous variety and output of Antonio Vivaldi.

    The book, in German, is published by Breitkopf & Haertel: www.breitkopf.de

    A fairly accurate listing of the works of Antonio Vivaldi with the Ryom RV numbers can be viewed at:
    http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/catal/vivaldi/viva.html

     

  • 18th-century publications _

    Only twelve volumes of Vivaldi’s music were published in his lifetime, representing but a small part of his entire output. With the publication of L'Estero Armonico in 1711 his fame quickly spread and his music found its way into private music libraries throughout Europe.

    In 1725 Vivaldi published a masterpiece, Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’invenzione, which included The Four Seasons. Its success was immediate and it became a cult hit: in France it was played at the Concerts Spirituels, Louis XVI commanded its performance, Corrette, Chédeville and Rousseau made transcriptions; in Rome Cardinal Ottoboni included it in his repertoire and it remains popular to this day.

    According to the English literary figure Edward Holdsworth, who purchased music from Vivaldi for his friend Charles Jennens, Vivaldi stopped publishing his music because he found he could make more money selling the music himself. Whether this is true or not, these printed editions kept Vivaldi’s name in circulation over the centuries.

    1703
    First published work, Trio Sonatas, op. 1 (12 sonatas for two violins and basso continuo), dedicated to Count Annibale Gambara, Venice, Giuseppe Sala publisher.

    1709
    Second published work, Sonatas, op. 2 (12 sonatas for violin and basso continuo), dedicated to Federico IV of Denmark and Norway, Venice, Antonio Bortoli publisher.

    1711
    L’Estero armonico, op. 3 (12 concertos for 4, 2 and solo violin), published in Amsterdam by Estienne Roger and dedicated to Ferdinando III, prince of Tuscany.

    1714
    La stravaganza, op. 4 (12 concertos for violin) was published in Amsterdam by Estienne Roger, dedicated to the Venetian nobleman Vettor Dolfin.

    1716
    O vero Parte Seconda dell’Opera Seconda, op. 5 (4 sonatas for violin and b.c. and 2 sonatas for 2 violins and b.c.) published in Amsterdam by Jeanne Roger.

    1719 & 1720
    Op. 6  (4 concertos for violin and b.c. and 2 for 2 violins and b.c.)
    Op. 7 (concertos for 3 violins, viola and b.c.) published in Amsterdam by Roger.

    1725
    Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’invenzione, op. 8 (12 concertos for violin, the first four are The Four Seasons), published by Michel-Charles Le Cène in Amsterdam.

    1727
    La Cetra, op. 9 (12 concertos for violin, 1 being for 2 violins), published by Michel-Charles Le Cène in Amsterdam and dedicated to Emperor Charles VI of Austria.

    1729
    Op. 10 (6 concertos for traverse flute), published by Le Cène in Amsterdam.

    1729
    Opp. 11 & 12 (two collections of six concertos for violin) published by Le Cène in Amsterdam.


    A few other publications appeared in Vivaldi’s lifetime but there is reason to believe that they were pirate editions:
    -    Six sonatas for violoncello by Le Clerc le Cadet in 1740
    -    Concert for oboe (Harmonia Mundi, 1728)






    See photo

     

  • Modern Editions _

    The late interest in Antonio Vivaldi can be partially attributed to the difficulty in finding modern performing editions of his music. Hence, it is a great surprise for most to learn that, with the exception of the operas and recent finds, almost all of Vivaldi’s music has been published. Beginning in 1947 the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, in Venice, began publishing the instrumental works of Vivaldi with the Italian music publishers Ricordi in Milan.

    By 1972 they had published 529 volumes. The sacred music was published in the same series. These editions can occasionally be found in Italy but the best way to obtain them is to have a music shop order them. Many are discouraged by the fact that they are in full score only and the separate parts must be rented from Ricordi.

    In 1982 the Istituto created the Nuova Edizione Critica, again with Ricordi, to publish the sacred music, the cantatas and the instrumental works discovered since the end of the first publication in 1972.

    Since 2001 they have been preparing critical editions of all the operas and individual arias in collaboration with Ricordi. In the last two years Ricordi has also published 4 volumes of arias for voice and keyboard reduction, edited by Vivaldi performer and scholar Federico Maria Sardelli.

    Ricordi www.ricordi.com

    Among the few other commendable publications are:

    Facsimile editions from S.P.E.S. http://www.spes-editore.com/shop/index.php

    O.M.I. Editions http://www.omifacsimiles.com/

    Antonio Vivaldi: The complete works for Viola d'amore
    Urtext Edition based on the Turin and Dresden  manuscripts - Quall Publications http://www.violadamore.co.uk  

    OPERAS

    Orlando Furioso and La Verità in Cimento in editions prepared by Jean-Christophe Spinosi and Laurence Paugam are available through: http://www.editions-buissonnieres.fr

     

  • Autograph manuscripts _

    Ninety percent of the autograph manuscripts (handwritten by Vivaldi or one of his copyists) that have survived are housed in Turin, Italy in the National University Library, department of rare manuscripts.  They were purchased in the late 1920s by two benefactors, Roberto Foà and Filippo Giordano.

    This massive group of manuscripts is, in fact, Antonio Vivaldi’s personal, working library which was in his home at the time of his death. It includes sketches or working scores in his hand, scores in the hand of his copyists and scores to which Vivaldi has made alterations.To have such a source, intact, by a composer from the 18th-century is an occurrence of extreme rarity and its importance is fundamental: thanks to this large collection of manuscripts we are able to document the music of one of history’s most important composers. 

    The second largest collection of Vivaldi manuscripts (parts and full scores) is in Dresden, Germany in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek. 

    Thirty-eight works by Vivaldi are housed in Manchester, England in the Henry Watson Music Library. This collection was originally in the collection of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni.

    Some nineteen concerti are in Vienna, Austria at the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek and twelve “concerti ripieni” are in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France.

    Finally, there are a few manuscripts in Lund, Sweden and in Brtnice, Czech Republic..

    THE MAURA FOA'-RENZO GIORDANO COLLECTION

    How this collection came to be in Turin is an intriguing tale. Evidence proves that 27 volumes of the “Red Priest’s” music were in the library of Count Jacopo Soranzo in Venice in 1745. Soranzo probably purchased them from the composer’s brother, Francesco, who inherited them upon Antonio’s death in 1741.

    These volumes passed into the hands of Count Giacomo Durazzo, who kept them in his palace on the Grand Canal until his death. His nephew had them brought to Genoa where they remained in the family palace for a century. In 1893 the volumes were divided equally and bequeathed to the brothers Marcello and Flavio Durazzo. When Marcello died he left his part of the collection to the Salesian San Carlo College near Casale Monferrato, not far from the city of Turin.

    In 1926 the rector of this college decided to sell the volumes, contacting Turin’s Biblioteca Nazionale for an evaluation of their worth. Luigi Torri, director of the library at that time, solicited the advice of Alberto Gentili, professor of music history at the University of Turin, both of whom acknowledged the collection’s great importance. Gentili approached a friend, the wealthy businessman Roberto Foà, who purchased the volumes in 1927 for the library. The other half of the collection remained in Genoa until 1930, when, after a long period of negotiations, the last of the family’s heirs agreed to sell it to the library as well. This time the financing was provided by the entrepreneur Filippo Giordano.

    The manuscripts of Antonio Vivaldi thus found a home in the Biblioteca Nazionale of Turin, where they are known as the  Mauro Foà and Renzo Giordano collections (in memory of sons of both benefactors). The 27 volumes comprise 450 works ranging from single arias to full scale operas. The amount of instrumental music is prodigious :
    296 concertos for one or several instruments, strings and basso continuo (including 110 concertos for violin and 39 for bassoon), cantatas, motets and 14 complete operas.

     

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