Vivaldi’s Autumn

    Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) – a Catholic priest, but who spent much of his time as a composer than a pastor due, as he confessed, to his own precarious health. but also, likely, from proclivity – was one of the most voluminous musicians of the baroque, who were, as we saw recently with Telemann, were not known for their paucity, pusillanimity or lack of work ethic.

    Vivaldi wrote many of his works for the girls’ orphanage, of which he was chaplain and cappelmeister. They are still masterpieces.

    Much could be said, but let us for know give a listen to one part of his most popular work, The Four Seasons. This was ahead of its time, incorporating ‘sounds’ of the seasons in the instruments. Here we have Autumn, with the violins and violas mimicking barking dogs, hunting parties and roaring fires. I did not know that Vivaldi also composed sonnets to go along with the music – these follow the video in the text, in their original Italian, along with translations, which you may enjoy while sitting before your own ‘fire’, metaphorical or otherwise, after whatever this fall may bring.


    cacciator alla nov’ alba à caccia
    Con corni, Schioppi, e cani escono fuore
    Fugge la belva, e Seguono la traccia;
    Già Sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
    De’ Schioppi e cani, ferita minaccia
    Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.

    (The hunters emerge at the new dawn,
    And with horns and dogs and guns depart upon their hunting
    The beast flees and they follow its trail;
    Terrified and tired of the great noise
    Of guns and dogs, the beast, wounded, threatens
    Languidly to flee, but harried, dies).

    Allegro non molto

    Agghiacciato tremar trà nevi algenti
    Al Severo Spirar d’ orrido Vento,
    Correr battendo i piedi ogni momento;
    E pel Soverchio gel batter i denti;

    (To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
    In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
    To run, stamping one’s feet every moment,
    Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold)


    Passar al foco i di quieti e contenti
    Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento

    (Before the fire to pass peaceful,
    Contented days while the rain outside pours down).