Classical Haiku: Antonio Vivaldi

Summer, fall, winter,
spring – a concerto for all
seasons. No – many!

An old joke holds that Antonio Vivaldi didn’t compose 800 concertos, he composed the same concerto 800 times.

Like many jokes, this one resonates on a level of some truth. Vivaldi, the composer of the four violin concertos collectively known as The Four Seasons, did compose in an era when many had certain, fairly clear expectations for the genre of the concerto. A concerto would have an orchestra and a solo instrument (or group of solo instruments) held in relief against that orchestra.

The musical style of Vivaldi’s day also extended certain other expectations. The hundreds of concertos Vivaldi composed did deliver on many, if not most, of these expectations. But in some concertos he toyed ingeniously with what he knew his audience would expect a concerto to do. Call it an inside joke, but it worked.

Even if the pundits are more right than they were wrong and all of Vivaldi’s voluminous concertos are more alike than they are different, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: Vivaldi’s concertos are a joy to hear.

Today’s Classical Haiku celebrates the prolific Vivaldi, who created a sparkling universe in hundreds of Baroque concertos.

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