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Antonio Vivaldi

BIOGRAPHY

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was an Italian violinist and composer during the late baroque period. During his career, he was a violin master, director of instrumental music, composer, and priest at the Ospedale della Pietà, a convent and music school in Venice. He was nicknamed the "Red Priest" due to his ginger hair.

Vivaldi mastered what would become the concerto. He helped establish the fast-slow-fast format of concerto movements, and was the first to use ritornello form. His works are known for virtuosic passages for solo instruments, especially the violin. He composed almost 500 concerti, whose fast movements are characterized by rhythmic drive. Vivaldi was also known for his operas, and he began to write sacred vocal music when the Pietà’s choirmaster left his post. Works such as Stabat Mater are known for their emotional character.

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Here is an example of Vivaldi’s virtuosic writing for violin in the "Winter" concerto from The Four Seasons.