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Vivaldi: Red Priest of Venice
History Makers: Illustrated, series
by Susan Adams
While Antonio Vivaldi is known to most people for only one piece, The Four Seasons (made famous by violinist Nigel Kennedy) the Red Priest, as he was known due to the colour of his hair, was a prolific composer of concertos (over 500 of which survive), choral works and operas (over 40 of which survive). While he wrote this large amount of music and had a major influence on Johann Sebastian Bach one composer (I think Puccini) dismissed Vivaldi as having written hundreds of pieces but only one tune. Like many Baroque composers, including Bach and Handel, as soon as the taste in music changed their genius was all but forgotten with Romantics such as Mendelssohn, Arnold Schering, and Fritz Kreisler having to resurrect their music. Even today pieces by the Baroque masters are being discovered and documents that tell us more about their often colourful lives.
With a life including ordination to the priesthood, censure for sexual immorality, ill health, relationships with leading Italian and other European nobility, and death as a pauper Vivaldiís life was as colourful as his music. Susan Adamís book Vivaldi: Red Priest of Venice, is not the most in depth book on this controversial figure but if you want to dig deeper into the life of one of the biggest stars of the Italian Baroque period then this book is one of the best launching off points I have read.
Reviewer: Phelim McIntyre (27/01/11)