It probably goes without saying that the more you know about something the more you can appreciate it. As I approach this new movement of the Vivaldi concerto, its layers of musical wonder are being made manifest to me – I see in the work beauty that, prior to playing it, I could never have known. In particular, the patterns Vivaldi uses to propagate his melodies are astonishing – complex, yet simple. Repetitive, yet nuanced. And fun.
Vivaldi’s inspiration was multi-layered too. He began life as a priest, so there’s the inspiration of the most high, which factors into much of the music of his era. In aspiring to worship the deity, it’s hard to imagine a higher purpose in any composer’s mind, certainly not of his time. Though I have no specific information about this particular concerto being particularly religious in its origin, for most of his life he was in the service of a school affiliated with the church. It seems likely that another of his strong influences must have been the children with whom he worked – he was a musical educator, mostly of young women, for the bulk of his career.
But as I did deeper into his music, I’m inclined to think that his greatest source of inspiration must have been the instrument itself, and his proficiency with it. Vivaldi is widely considered to be one of the greatest violinists ever to live – as with other great virtuoso composers, there can be no dismissing the special compositional prowess at work when passions for both music and an instrument intersect.
Thanks for reading,