The Four Seasons – Spring’s Raptures

The Four Seasons – Spring’s Raptures

The cycle’s brightest, most optimistic music is heard first, as befits the season. It is also the most formal: a ritornello with the heaviness and poise of a courtly dance, suited to the proclaiming of a goddess. Vivaldi adapted the ritornello for the opera Giustino (RV 717,1724) as a short sinfonia, also in E major, […]

The Four Seasons – Summer’s Ruin

The Four Seasons – Summer’s Ruin

Vivaldi’s vision of the fear and destruction associated with a temporale – a violent storm, brewed by the warm winds from the Sahara, of a kind that regularly afflicts Italy in summer – is arguably his most inspired characterized concerto. Of all the Seasons, only Summer has a relentless progression across its three movements from […]

The Four Seasons – Autumn’s Revels

The Four Seasons – Autumn’s Revels

Struggle with Nature, so central to Summer, is a theme absent from Autumn. Having achieved a temporary victory by harnessing Nature’s power, man may now enjoy the spoils (crops, ale, wild animals to be killed) in untroubled leisure. Selfish indulgence is hinted at both in the sonnet – which eschews the idea, present in Spring, […]

The Four Seasons – Winter’s Reconciliation

The Four Seasons – Winter’s Reconciliation

In Winter, Nature is at her most terrifying in the bleakest of environments. This is evident in the tuneless opening ritornello, with cruel dissonance and icy articulation, and the fury of the wind that follows. It is certainly a vision of horror to Vivaldi’s way of thinking. He would later set an aria about blood […]

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

It is ironic that The Four Seasons, some of the best-known music of all time, remain an enigma. Several interrelated questions need to be answered before a reasonably complete view of Vivaldi’s actions can ever be reached. When were the sonnets written, and by whom? Was the music based on the poetry or vice versa? […]