"Autumn" from The Four Seasons (Concerto for Violin in F, Opus 8 No. 3)
Last movement: "Allegro"
Play the music here:
1. String family - String Orchestra (violins, violas, 'cellos and basses) with harpsichord and solo violin.
2. Solo and Tutti - The orchestra and solo violin play together in the Tutti sections. One violin takes the lead in Solo sections.
3. Program Music - Vivaldi illustrates the text of a sonnet he wrote with his music.
4. Rondo form - ABACAD, etc.
Antonio Vivaldi lived in Italy 250 years ago. Vivaldi was born in the famous Italian city of Venice. He was a priest and was maestro di concerti or music master at a girls' school in Venice for most of his life. His red hair earned him the epithet (or nickname) "The Red Priest." He was a prolific composer, writing over 350 concertos alone.
The Four Seasons are the most famous of Vivaldi's 350 concertos. He developed the concerto, a piece of music written for a solo instrument and orchestra, to show off the virtuoso possibilities of the violin whose design had just been perfected in Italy. His concertos were used as models by many others.
The idea of using instrumental music to illustrate a text is uncommon in the music of the Baroque era (bah-ROKE, approximately 1650-1750), but this idea was used extensively later in the 19th century music which came to be called Program Music. In all of The Four Seasons Vivaldi wrote lines of text above particular passages. In this movement the text states:
|"At dawn the hunters, ready for the chase,
Emerge with horns and guns and dogs and cries;
The fox breaks cover, they now begin the race.
The din of guns and dogs now terrifies
The wounded fox, who for a little space
Tries wearily to flee but, harried, dies."
|I cacciator alla nov'alba à caccia
Con corni, Schioppi, e canni escono fuore
Fugge la belua, e Seguono la traccia;
Già Sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore De'Schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.
Can you hear the solo violin?
Can you hear the horns? the guns? the chase? the fox die?
What instruments do you hear? (violins, violas, 'cellos, basses, harpsichord)
SOME POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES:
1. Listen for the hunters in the woods. Make a picture or dance to go with Vivaldi's music.
2. Make cards saying Solo and Tutti to hold up when those sections are heard (see "Features" above).
3. Listen for the solo violin. When you hear it hold up a picture of a violin.
4. Make "f" and "p" cards ( piano and forte, loud and soft). Hold up when appropriate.
5. Sing melody (see below): Count the repetitions. Make up words or sing the ones below.
6. Artists often hand colored etchings or pictures in books in Vivaldi's time, as colour reproduction and printing was difficult. Print out and hand colour the drawing below from the time of Vivaldi. Remember why he was called "The Red Priest?"
This picture of Vivaldi is by a cartoonist who drew it when Vivaldi was still alive.
FABULOUS 4 Seasons activities from Canada's National Arts Center Orchestra