Friday, 22 August 2014


“The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it’s cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings.” - Rita Dove

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741) was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher and cleric. Born in Venice, he was recognised as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe. He was aged fifteen and a half when he received the tonsure, and grew up to become the prete rosso (“red priest”) of Venice, so called on account of his red hair. Although he remained a deeply religious man, he stopped saying Mass soon after his ordination; later in life he cited a long-term ailment as the reason for this (probably asthma).

From September 1703 to February 1709 he was violin teacher at the Pio Ospedale della Pietà in Venice (an orphanage for girls which offered musical training). In addition to teaching violin, directing, and composing instrumental works, Vivaldi also taught the viole all' inglese and was responsible for acquiring and maintaining string instruments for the orchestra. By this time he had begun to establish himself as a composer. He was an avid traveller and one of the most prolific composers of his time, having written over 350 concerti, many church compositions and numerous operas.

His popularity in Venice had declined considerably by 1739, and this may have prompted him to travel to Vienna, where he arrived by June 28, 1741. He died there the following month, and was given a pauper’s burial at the Hospital Burial Ground. Vivaldi was most influential as a composer of instrumental music, particularly concertos, in which his regular use of ritornello form in the fast movements and of a three-movement plan were influential. A skilful orchestrator, he favoured effects such as muting and pizzicato. A number of his orchestral works are programmatic, the best-known examples being the concertos ‘Il Gardellino’ (The Goldfinch), ‘La Tempesta di Mare’ (The Tempest at Sea), and Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons) of Opus 8.

After his death, Vivaldi’s music slid into obscurity until a vigorous revival in the 20th century. Today, he ranks among the most popular and widely recorded of Baroque composers, second perhaps only to Johann Sebastian Bach, who himself was deeply influenced by Vivaldi’s work.

Here are some works for Mandolin and Lute, performed by L’Arte dell’Arco, with Federico Guglielmo [violin I/concert master]; Mauro Squillante [mandolin RV 532/II, RV 425]; Davide Rebuffa [mandolin RV 532/I]; Diego Cantalupi [archlute RV 85/93/82]; Pietro Prosser [baroque lute RV 540]; Mario Paladin [viola d’amore RV 540]; Nicola Reniero [harpsichord RV 425].


  1. These are absolutely lovely! Thanks.

  2. Oooo who would not love this.!

  3. Wonderful music, perfect for the weekend!