Vivaldi, Antonio

About 1675-1743

Italian violinist and composer; born in Venice, where his father, Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, was violinist in the Ducal chapel of St. Mark's. Going to Germany, he was appointed violinist to Philip, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, which position he held for some time. In 1713 he returned to Venice and became director of the Conservatorio della Pieta, holding the post until his death. At an early age he had entered the priesthood and was called "il prete rosso" on account of his red hair. Vivaldi was a prolific composer, for besides a great amount of violin music he published twentyeight operas. His mastery of form gave him distinction and he did much for the development of the concerto. Johann Sebastian Bach arranged two of his concertos, taken from the Estro armonico, as a quintet for harpsichord, two violins, alto and bass. His violin pieces, called stravaganze, and his Cuckoo Concerto were very popular in their time but are now considered only show-pieces. Vivaldi's violin concertos are still studied in Germany.