Antonio Vivaldi was born March 4, 1678 in Venice, Italy. He is an Italian composer known mainly for the instrumental music he composed. In his lifetime he composed more than 400 concertos. These compositions were known as concerti grossi and were written for an orchestra and a small solo ensemble. They contained the three-movement form for which Vivaldi is best known.
His most famous works include The Four Seasons although he also wrote vocal compositions. He was an accomplished violinist and many of his works contain pieces for the violin.
Vivaldi took violin lessons from his father and later studied with the composer Giovanni Legrenzi. In 1703, he was ordained a priest and the next year he began a long career as the musical director of the Osperdale della Pieta, which was an orphanage and conservatory in Venice. He performed many of his works for the students at this location.
In 1740, Vivaldi moved to Vienna in hopes of advancing his career. He died in 1741 and his works were forgotten for a number of years until Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed them. An interest in his music revived in the 1930’s and today his instrumental music is performed all over the world.
The compositions of Vivaldi reflect a playful and flamboyant exuberance. It breaks with the musical traditions of the time in which he lived because it adds an element of brightness to the formal and rhythmic structure of the concertos. The music he created was intended for broader audiences rather than academics and court officials. He is considered to be one of the composers who blended the Baroque and Classical styles of music.