Music Ensemble: Il Giardino Armonico, Milano, Italy Dancer & Choreography: Margarita Ermachenko
Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) grew up in Venice, Italy where his father, a professional violinist, taught him to play the violin and introduced him to some of the finest musicians and composers in the city. At the age of 15, he also began studying to become a priest. Because of his red hair, he was known as il Prete Rosso (“the Red Priest”). Vivaldi had to leave the clergy due to health issues, and he accepted several short-term musical positions funded by patrons in Mantua and Rome. It was in Mantua that he wrote his four-part masterpiece, The Four Seasons. He was also known for his operas, including Argippo and Bajazet. Vivaldi’s work, including nearly 500 concertos, influenced many later composers, including Bach.
The collection of Twelve Trio Sonatas Op. 1 was published by the Venetian house of Giuseppe Sala in 1705. Similarly to the other published collections by Vivaldi, it became known throughout Europe and reprinted four more times within the composer’s lifetime. It was dedicated to Count Annibale Gambara.
At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, the trio sonata was one of the most popular genres of instrumental music in Italy. The composers modelled their work on four sonata collections by Arcangelo Corelli. Mastery in the genre was generally seen as a test of composing talent, allowing a display of the ability to simultaneously shape the melody and the counterpoint.
Vivaldi, similarly to Albinoni and Caldara, made his debut with a collection of twelve trio sonatas. They were written for two violins and a cello (more precisely a violone) or a harpsichord. The earliest preserved Vivaldi pieces, they are characteristic in their individual and fully-formed style.