Listening Guide

Historical Background

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Era of music history: Baroque

Nationality: Italian

Life and work: Born to a musical family, Vivaldi was an ordained priest as well as a violinist.  He led an orchestra at an orphanage in Venice for thirty years and achieved considerable fame there.  After his death, however, his music largely fell from notice.

The Four Seasons “Spring,”  I. Allegro (1725)

Instrumentation: solo violin and orchestra

Duration: 3 minutes and 25 seconds

Mode: major

Form: ritornello.  (The solo violin and orchestra trade sections of music.)

Comment: Each concerto was inspired by a sonnet Vivaldi wrote about each season.  The lines that correspond to this movement can be translated as follows:

"Springtime is upon us.

The birds celebrate her return with festive song,

and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.

Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,

Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more."

 Translation taken from