“The Four Seasons” is a set of four violin concertos by Vivaldi Antonio. They were composed in 1723 and are among the best concertos ever written and are believed to be the best known works of Vivaldi (Katya-Oddio). This work is classified under the baroque music era. The four concertos were given the names “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter” with each resembling each season; for example, the “Summer” texture evokes thunderstorms, the “Winter” evokes icy rain. First published in 1725, the concertos were part of the 12 concerti. This essay will explore in detailVivaldi’s concerto “The Four Seasons”.
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“The Four Seasons”
This is one of the largest and popular works ever written by Antonio Vivaldi. It includes four violin concertos;it captures moods and illustrates stories that are related to a specific seasonof the year. Since they were composed in 1723, “The Four Seasons”continue to seduce, haunt, excite, and thrill people beyond their imagination as well as inspire millions of composers around the world. But what is their secret? Why do they continue to inspire people and how and where have they succeeded where others have failed?According to Jeremy Siepmann, each of Vivaldi’s movements is preceded by a lively exploration of its means and this is done with the help of many examples and very useful analogies. Thus, the seasons are more of an expression than a painting would be. However, Vivaldi was able to manage a painting while, at the same time, indulging a painting. His customary method was to encompass all the factors that are associated with program composition and, for “The Four Seasons”,he invented an external program that caused his method to be more focused (Everett 68).
Vivaldi wrote the four concertos to accompany four sonnets and it is believedthat Vivaldi also wrote the sonnets himself. The sonnets are divided into three sections that correspond to the concerto movement. It is amazing that Vivaldi accurately portrays each sonnet in such a way that he does not lose the overall quality and balance of his work. There are four concertos, namely:
- Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, “La Primavera” which was called “Spring”. This is about how spring has come and the birds are greeting it with a song and the streams flow along with a gentle murmur. Amid this, there comes the air with a black cloak, lighting and thunder which herald the storm (Gengaro).
- Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, “L'estate” which was called “Summer”. It is a harsh season scorched by the sun as flocks languish and pines are under fire. The west wind gently blows but suddenly the northern wind emergesas storm can be heard from a distance.
- Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293, “L'autunno” also known as the “DanzaPastorale” which was called “Autumn”. Peasants celebrate their harvest with dances and songs as the mild pleasant air makes people abandon dancing and singing inviting sweet delights of sleep.
- Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, “L'inverno” which was called “Winter”. It is very cold amidst the freezing snow coupled with harsh blows of the wind. This calls for spending quiet contented days by the fire as it rains outside (Green).
“The Four Seasons”, as can be seen from above, retain their genre’s principles and their excellence is a measure of how Vivaldi comprised in two directions – being able to adapt both the soloist’scontribution and the program’s structure. The tinkering of the program makes sure that it is fitted with standard types of movement. These types of works are rather praised for their narrative style and imagery. The rules of the solo concerto dictate that the program must not include long lasting sounds like that of thunder; hence,this work is suitable for foreground painting (Everett 68).
For example, “La Primavera”, which is thought to be one of the most perfect compositions, has a lot of strings with a disjunctive composition. The first movement can be heard to be loud, fast paced, cheery and lively with dynamics ranging from mezzo piano from the soft points to forte at the loudest parts. It starts with a slow tempo till the 37th second and later picks after 25 seconds. This is a polyphonic piece and is characterized by a wide range with a contour that is more often up than not. More importantly, however, is that it is a happy piece that evokes images of warmth and sunshine. The movement, in general, is very lively as there is much contour as the shape of the piece ups with a few dips, thus providinga rejoicing feeling (G. Jennifer).
“The Four Seasons”is a representation of Antonio Vivaldi’s remarkable innovation during the Baroque Era Concerto. It shows wonderful evocative themes that artists have responded to in different ways throughout history. Although they have been praised by different people in variousquarters, the sonnets seem to be very clumsy with an amateurish verse, thus disappointing,asbasically the majority of people expect sonnets to be rather polished. Overall, however, “The Four Seasons” has an extraordinary appeal and it is recognized as the classical music entry in the Baroque arts, hence achieving the feat of being the world’s great example of classical music.