Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Venice

Music History Monday: The Red Priest

On March 4, 1678 – 341 years ago today – the Italian composer, violinist, priest and rapscallion Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice. Yes, I know we are all “one-of-a-kind” and that that phrase is way overworked, but truly, Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was a genre unto himself! Vivaldi came to be known il prieto rosso (“The Red Priest”) for two excellent reasons: he had bright red hair and was trained as a Catholic priest. He might just as easily – and accurately – have been called “The Red Violinist” or Il Rosso Compositore: “The Red Composer”. All together, Vivaldi composed 49 “serious operas” in the ornate Venetian style that was all the international rage at the time. For better or for worse, the great bulk of these operas have fallen into obscurity; their artificial story lines and formulaic construction don’t resonate well with modern audiences. However, Verdi’s concerti do indeed resonate, and there are a lot of them: over five hundred in number. (49 operas. 500-plus concerti. Add to that hundreds upon hundreds of sacred works. These are crazy numbers, and despite the formulaic construction of much of this music, we must stand in awe of Vivaldi’s amazing fecundity. Let’s […]

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