Antonio Vivaldi (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: As the most influential and original Italian composer of the early eighteenth century, Vivaldi developed the basic form of the Baroque concerto and made it the standard for instrumental music throughout much of Europe. He was a pioneer of program music, and his techniques of orchestration and lyrical violin style anticipated the Romanticism of the nineteenth century.
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was the eldest of six children born to Giovanni Battista Vivaldi, the son of a baker from the town of Brescia. After his father’s death in 1666, Giovanni Battista was taken to Venice, where he eventually worked, at least part-time, as both a baker and a barber. In 1685, however, he was hired as a violinist at the Cathedral of St. Mark, which, like most larger churches in Europe, had its own orchestra. He achieved a certain amount of local fame as a musician, opera manager, and composer under the surname Rossi (Italian for “red”), apparently because of his red hair. Antonio Vivaldi was later to be known by the sobriquet “Il Prete Rosso” (“the red priest”) for the same reason.
When Antonio was born, the midwife who delivered him performed an emergency baptism because of a pericolo di morte, or “risk of death.” What exactly this risk was is unclear; a likely explanation is that the serious ailment which Vivaldi claimed afflicted him throughout his life had appeared at...
(The entire section is 2336 words.)
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