The Red Priest and his Transcriber

Two composers share a sad event, the day of their death – one in Vienna, the other in Leipzig. One was Italian, the other German. They both died this day, July the 28th, nine years apart in the 18th century. But they were kindred spirits of the times on this earth.

Let’s begin with Antonio Vivaldi – after all he came first!

vivaldiDuring his lifetime, Vivaldi was at first known for his shock of red hair, and when he took to the cloth, earned the sobriquet of the Red Priest.

In the secular world, his popularity quickly made him famous in other countries, including France, but after his death that popularity dwindled.

After the Baroque period, Vivaldi’s published concerti became relatively unknown and were largely ignored. Even Vivaldi’s most famous work, The Four Seasons, was unknown in its original edition during the Classical and Romantic periods. [Le quattro stagioni composed in 1723 is part of Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (“The Contest between Harmony and Invention”); it depicts moods and scenes from each of the four seasons. This work has been described as an outstanding instance of pre-nineteenth century programmatic music. And a sterling example is “Summer”, the Presto movement performed on YouTube by the Trondheim Soloists with its brilliant soloist Mari Silje Samuelsen whose sizzle is so redolent of the New York area in the grip of its own hot season this July of 2016.]Kreisler

By way of parenthesis, In the early 20th century, Fritz Kreisler’s Concerto in C, in the Style of Vivaldi (which he passed off as an original Vivaldi work) helped revive Vivaldi’s reputation.

Decades ago had seen the arrival of another musical giant, Johann bachSebastian Bach. He was deeply influenced by Vivaldi’s concertos and arias (recalled in his St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, and cantatas). Bach transcribed six of Vivaldi’s concerti for solo keyboard, three for organ, and one for four harpsichords, strings, and basso continuo (BWV 1065) based upon the concerto for four violins, two violas, cello, and basso continuo (RV 580).

So there we have it in a nutshell. The Red Priest and his Transcriber: two eminent and prolific composers we just can’t do without during our daily lives listening to Classical Music howsoever delivered to us in or outside the home.

References: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of Concert Music by David Ewen.

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