The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)

The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)

"The Four Seasons " ("Le quattro stagioni" in original Italian) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, "The Four Seasons" is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music.

The premiere recording was I Musici's 1955 recording (it was that ensemble's first recording of any music). It created such interest in the work that there are now more than 120 recordings of it.

The concertos were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve, Vivaldi's Op. 8, entitled "Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione" (The Contest between Harmony and Invention). The first four concertos were designated "Le quattro stagioni", each being named after a season. Each one is in three movements, with a slow movement between two faster ones. At the time of writing the Four Seasons, the modern solo form of the concerto had not yet been defined (typically a solo instrument and accompanying orchestra). Vivaldi's original arrangement for solo violin with string quartet and basso continuo helped to define the form. In modern times, others have made transcriptions and arrangements to be performed on different instrumentation.

*Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring)
*# Allegro
*# Largo
*# Allegro Pastorale
*Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer)
*# Allegro non molto
*# Adagio e piano - Presto e forte
*# Presto
*Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, "L'autunno" (Autumn)
*# Allegro
*# Adagio molto
*# Allegro
*Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter)
*# Allegro non molto
*# Largo
*# Allegro

The texture of each concerto is varied, resembling its respective season. For example, "Winter" is peppered with silvery staccato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas "Summer" evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement.

The four concertos were written to go along with four sonnets. Though it is not known who wrote these sonnets there is a theory that Vivaldi wrote them himself. The sonnets are as follows in the original Italian with an English translation:

In addition to these sonnets, Vivaldi provided instructions such as "The barking dog" (in the second movement of "Spring"), "Languor caused by the heat" (in the first movement of "Summer"), and "the drunkards have fallen asleep" (in the second movement of "Autumn").

"The Four Seasons" are, therefore, tone poems. Together they are an enduring example of program music. It is often referenced in popular culture.


External links

* Free scores of The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi at [ Mutopia Project]
* Spring Concerto [ Allegro] , [ Largo] , [ Allegro] interactive hypermedia (Shockwave required) at the [ BinAural Collaborative Hypertext]
* An in-depth overview and comparison of recordings of the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi on [ WETA 90.9's website]

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