Vivaldi stands out as one of the Baroque period’s most significant composers. His sheer volume of musical compositions has no peers: 500 concertos, 100 orchestral pieces, 50 operas and 40 choral with orchestral accompaniment pieces.
Vivaldi’s drive was fueled by both his love of God and love of music.
Vivaldi was at the right place, at the right time, with the right heart to be the right guy to make this remarkable contribution.
Antonio Vivaldi was born during the high point of the Baroque period in Venice, a city state, on the Adriatic Sea. The Baroque period is commonly thought to encompass 1600 AD. to approximately 1750 AD. Venice was the leading maritime power in the Christian world. With the enormous wealth of merchants in this significant trading center, these merchants contributed to the patronage of the arts such as music, painting, and architecture. As a major center of trade so close to the heart of the Roman center of Christendom, Christianity was integrated throughout Venetian society. The center of Venice’s religious life was St. Mark’s Chapel.
The Baroque period was at its midpoint when the baby Antonio Vivaldi was born in 1678 into the Venetian music culture. Vivaldi’s father, the leading violinist at St. Mark’s Chapel, along with Legrenzi, the director of Music at St. Mark’s, were young Antonio’s teachers. Vivaldi began preparing for the priesthood. Because of his red hair, young Vivaldi was known as El Prete Rosso (the red-haired priest). His vocation as a priest was short lived however, apparently due to his unrelenting passion to compose. One story of Vivaldi is told of his stepping down from the pulpit during mass to run into another room just to write down a tune that was in his head. These events as well as his poor health brought an end to his priesthood duties.
Vivaldi found a new mission field within which to plow his incredible talents. He became the head of the Conservatory at the Ospedele della Pieta’. The Ospedele della Pieta’ was an orphanage or group of mercy hospitals with as many as 6,000 orphaned girls. The Pieta’ knew no parallel in musical history. The quality of the music that ran through its corridors was played by the girls of this “convent” written exclusively by Vivaldi himself. The girls of the