Today is the birthday of Italian baroque composer, Antonio Vivaldi. The master of concertos, famous for creating the violin masterpiece, "The Four Seasons," would turn 335 years old if he were miraculously alive today.
Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678, and became maestro di violino (master of the violin) at the age of 25 while working at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà orphanage. The institute provided musical education for abandoned or orphaned children, but was also known for its acclaimed orchestra and choir. There Vivaldi began composing, writing concerto and cantatas for his talented students, paving the way for his eventual ascension to the royal orchestras and opera houses of Europe.
Vivaldi was a celebrated musical figure during his lifetime, but his fame has only risen since his death in 1741. To celebrate the beloved classical composer, we've put together a slideshow of 10 facts about his life. Scroll through the slides below and let us know how you are paying tribute to the musical great in the comments.
Vivaldi Was A Priest
Vivaldi was ordained into the Catholic Church at the age of 25 and was soon given the nickname "il Prete Rosso" (the Red Priest). He withdrew from religious duties when he turned to composing, but he retained his title as a priest throughout his life.
Vivaldi Was A Redhead
It's hard to tell from pictures, given the fact that color photography had not been invented and men's fashion during Vivaldi's life involved wearing stylish white wigs, but the famed composer was a redhead. Hence the nickname, the Red Priest.
Vivaldi Wrote An Opera About Two Women In Love
In 1715, Vivaldi wrote an opera titled "Arsilda, regina di Ponto," which told the story of two women -- Arsilda and Lisea -- who fell in love while Lisea was pretending to be a man. The opera was censored, but Vivaldi managed to stage the work the following year.
Vivaldi Wrote An All Female Oratorio
Vivaldi's famous oratorio, "Juditha triumphans," was originally performed entirely by girls from the Pieta orphanage. All eleven parts, even the male roles, were performed by young women singing about the victory of the Republic of Venice against the Turks.
Vivaldi Was Not Loved By Conservative Musicians Of The Time
Around 1720, a pamphlet titled "Il teatro alla moda" denounced Vivaldi for his controversial, progressive style. Written by magistrate and musician Benedetto Marcello, the indictment did not mention Vivaldi specifically, but it featured an angel wearing a priest's hat and playing the violin, and included the word "ALDIVIA" -- an anagram of A. Vivaldi.
Vivaldi Played For Another Pope Benedict
In 1722, Vivaldi moved to Rome and was invited to play for Pope Benedict XIII.
'Four Seasons' Represented A New Way Of Writing Music
"Four Seasons" drew inspiration from Vivaldi's time in the rural region of Mantua, Italy, and depicts the varying auditory experiences of winter, spring, summer and fall. In it, Vivaldi managed to give individual voices to the landscape (creeks, frozen bodies of water, crackling fires), the wildlife (various species of birds, dogs, and insects) and the people, at one point musically illustrating a hunting party from both the perspective of the predators and the prey. Other sound effects that he replicated included the <a href="http://www.albanysymphony.com/concerts_and_tickets/event_details.cfm?ID=97">buzzing of mosquitoes and the chattering of teeth in the winter</a>. IMAGE: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Bayl, perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons at the Hampton Court Palace Festival.
Vivaldi Died A Poor Man
Despite his immense popularity, Vivaldi passed away in 1741 a poor man. Like many other older composers of the time, his music was becoming outdated, and he was forced to sell many of his manuscripts to support himself when he failed to maintain a steady source of income. He died of "internal infection" and was buried in a grave supplied by the public hospital fund in Vienna.
Bach Was A Big Fan
The German composer Bach transcribed a number of Vivaldi's string and wind concertos and is considered to have drawn much inspiration from the harmonic schemes found in the works of Italian composers like Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli and Giuseppe Torelli.
Some Of Vivaldi's Music May Have Gone Missing
Vivaldi is thought to have produced 94 operas, but only 50 of these works have been discovered. In 2005, a musicologist in Melbourne, Australia unearthed a piece of Vivaldi music that had not been played since the 18th century. Image: Melbourne University musicologist Janice Stockgit talks with musicians after they performed the first 'new' work by classical master Antonio Vivaldi in some 250 years, in Melbourne 09 August 2005. Stockgit unearthed the music at a Dresden University while in the final days of a five-year project on Catholic Church music played in Saxony in the 18th century and Vivaldi experts have called it the biggest find in 75 years with the music previously ascribed to fellow musician Baldassare Galuppi. The Melbourne musicans performed five minutes of the 35-minute, 11-movement piece which will be played in full next year in Dresden, Germany. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
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